Friday 26 December 2014

Lap of glory turns into walk of shame

It's hard not to feel sorry for Nicole Kidman who is being forced to talk up a turkey in Cannes, writes Julia Molony

Julia Molony

Published 18/05/2014 | 02:30

Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth at the ‘Grace of Monaco’ photocall during the 67th Cannes Film Festival in France. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain
Nicole Kidman in the film as Princess Grace

There's a particular kind of exquisite humiliation that comes after submitting to being all trussed up in couture and borrowed diamonds, pushed out in front of the world's media at a film festival, only to discover that what was supposed to be a lap of glory has turned instead into a walk of shame.

So it's hard not to feel sorry for Nicole Kidman in Cannes, stuck in front of the glare of the world's press like a rabbit in the headlights, contractually obliged to go through the motions of trying to talk up a turkey, despite the fact that everyone knows there's no saving the widely panned Grace of Monaco.

Only those critics who are in situ at Cannes have seen the film (the rest of us now unlikely to fork out the price for tickets when it eventually comes to our screens) which opened the festival this year, and enjoyed top billing before the fanfare very quickly went flat. Amongst those who have, the verdict is virtually unanimous. Every aspect of the film has been savaged, the direction, the characterisations, the feeble narrative which is pinned on Grace Kelly's supposed involvement in keeping super-rich Monaco, haven for tax refugees, financially independent from France. And Kidman herself, as not only the films lead but also somehow its figurehead, has become the emblem of its failure.

She's an Oscar-winning actress widely respected for her skills. But as Grace of Monaco she has been, as Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian had it, reduced to "wafting around the palace with dewy eyed features and slightly parted lips which make her look like a grown-up Bambi after a couple of cocktails, suddenly remembering his mother's violent death in the forest."

One can see how, on the surface, casting Kidman to play Kelly, Hollywood actress turned European monarch might have seemed inspired. Physically, they have a porcelain, sculptural kind of beauty in common. Director Olivier Dahan clearly thought that would be enough. He should have known better. Especially since it was he who greenlit the then unknown Marion Cotillard to play Edith Piaf – not because they looked alike but because the bird-like Cotillard was capable of channelling something of the singer's indomitable life force and her enormous spirit into her portrayal.

The common conception of Kidman as a kind of modern-day Kelly is a recent and post-botox phenomenon. Back when she was an upcoming actress with wild red hair and a kind of white-hot ferocity, no one in their right minds would have made the comparison.

Quentin Tarantino (L) and Uma Thurman attend the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Quentin Tarantino (L) and Uma Thurman attend the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Kristen Stewart leaves the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Uma Thurman attends the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
(L-R) Uma Thurman attends the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actors Juliette Binoche and Chloe Grace Moretz attend the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Heidi Klum (L) and Justin Bieber attend amfAR's 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala after party
Model Irina Shayk attends "The Search" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley attends "The Search" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Aishwarya Rai attends the 'Two Days, One Night' (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Alessandra Ambrosio attends the "Two Days, One Night" (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Marion Cotillard attends the "Two Days, One Night" (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Petra Nemcova attends the "Two Days, One Night" premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Model Eva Herzigova arriving for the screening of Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit). (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Actress Jessica Chastain. Reuters/Regis Duvignau
Actress Julianne Moore, left, and actress Mia Wasikowska. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Actress Amber Heard attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
(L-R) Ryan Gosling and Christina Hendricks attend the "Lost River" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Models Rosie Huntington Whiteley (L) and Cara Delevingne attend the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Actress Sharon Stone attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Victoria Silvstedt attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Christina Hendricks and Geoffrey Arend attend the "Lost River" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Riley Keough attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Cara Delevingne and Amber Heard attend the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Actress Julianne Moore, left, and actor Rob Pattinson in Cannes. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Director Bennett Miller (second right), cast members Mark Ruffalo (left), Channing Tatum (second left) and Steve Carell (right). Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Cast member Channing Tatum at the screening of the film "Foxcatcher" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Robert Pattinson (L) and Sarah Gadon arriving for the screening of the film "Maps to the Stars" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. Reuters/Regis Duvignau
Director Jean-Pierre Dardenne (L) and cast member Marion Cotillard attend a news conference for the film "Deux jours, une nuit" (Two Days, One Night). Reuters/Benoit Tessier
John Cusack, Evan Bird, producer Michel Merkt, actress Julianne Moore, director David Cronenberg, cast members Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson and Sarah Gadon, producers Martin Katz and Said Ben Said pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the screening of the film "Maps to the Stars". Reuters/Regis Duvignau
From left, actor Mark Ruffalo, actor Steve Carell and actor Channing Tatum. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Suki Waterhouse attends "The Homesman" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Hilary Swank poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the screening of the film "The Homesman" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Socialite Paris Hilton poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the film "The Rover" out of competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Hilary Swank attends "The Homesman" press conference during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Socialite Paris Hilton poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the film "The Rover" out of competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Actor Sylvester Stallone (C) and cast members of the film "The Expendables 3" pose on the red carpet during the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Cast members Robert Pattinson (2ndL) and Guy Pearce (R), Director David Michod (2ndR) and producer David Linde (L) pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the film "The Rover" out of competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Jessica Chastain attends "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby" Premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain attend "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby" Premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Jennifer Lawrence attends Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" party at a private villa
Jennifer Lawrence attends Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" party at a private villa
Julianne Moore attends Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" party at a private villa
Actress and producer Salma Hayek holds a placard which reads "Bring back our girls" as she poses on the red carpet 67th Cannes Film Festival
Eva Longoria attends the "Saint Laurent" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Salma Hayek attends the "Saint Laurent" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
(L-R) Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairman Rob Friedman, actor Donald Sutherland, director Francis Lawrence, actors Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Sam Claflin, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, producer Nina Jacobson attend "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" photocall at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Blake Lively
Cast member Ryan Reynolds (R) and his wife actress Blake Lively. Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Actress Rosario Dawson. (AP Photo/Thibault Camu
Cast member Ryan Reynolds (R) and his wife actress Blake Lively arriving for the screening of the film "Captives" (The Captive). Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Actress Blake Lively (R) and cast member Rosario Dawson. Reuters/Yves Herman
Cate Blanchett. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Actress Naomi Watts on the red carpet. Reuters/Yves Herman
Actress Cate Blanchett. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Actress Cate Blanchett at the 67th international film festival, Cannes. Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
Actress Blake Lively
Actress Cate Blanchett and Trophy honoree actress Adele Exarchopoulos at the Chopard Trophee 2014 ceremony. Reuters/Yves Herman
Lydia Kebede attends the "Mr Turner" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Zoe Saldana attends the "Mr Turner" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Hofit Golan attends the "Mr Turner" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Lupita Nyong'o attends the Calvin Klein in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Naomi Watts at the Calvin Klein. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Rooney Mara at the Calvin Klein party in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Julianne Moore at the Calvin Klein party. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Julianne Moore in Cannes. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Cate Blanchett (L) and Adele Exarchopoulos. Reuters/Yves Herman
Actress Cate Blanchett (L) applauds Trophy honoree actress Adele Exarchopoulos at the Chopard Trophee 2014 ceremony in. Chopard honours male and female acting revelations during the annual Cannes Film Festival. Reuters/Yves Herman
Actress Blake Lively arrives for the screening of Mr. Turner. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Actress Julianne Moore. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Actress Blake Lively. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
(L-R) Paz Vega and Nicole Kidman attend the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Karlie Kloss attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Zoe Saldana attends the Opening Ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Audrey Tautou attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Elena Lenina attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Nicole Kidman attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Jury member Carole Bouquet attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Model Karlie Kloss. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Jane Fonda attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Kendal Jenner attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival oin Cannes, France. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Kendall Jenner attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Zhang Ziyi attends the Opening Ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Nicole Kidman attends at the photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festiva at Palais des Festivals
Myleene Klass is seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Zoe Saldana and husband Marco Perego arrive at Nice International Airport during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Kendall Jenner is seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Julianne Moore is seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Sofia Coppola and her children are seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Pamela Anderson and her boyfriend Rick Salomon are seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Before all the cosmetic interventions; the injections and the fillers and whatever else that changed her face from a living thing into a blank approximation of what it once was, she was famous not for being a serene, Hitchcock blonde, but for something altogether feistier.

After Grace Kelly jettisoned her acting career and threw herself into life as a stateswoman she became, like Kate Middleton, defined by her unflappable composure. The first mistake of this film was to confuse Kidman's botox -induced blankness for Kelly's glacial inscrutability. I haven't seen Grace of Monaco, but in the trailer and in every still, Kidman seems to be reaching for serenity and settling instead for a kind of 'poker up the backside' stiffness.

It's a shame, because Kidman has proven herself time and time again to be a fine actress. But she has fallen down in trying to change her professional persona to fit her new face. At her best, she is pure, unrestrained emotionality; fragile and fine-boned sure, but volatile with it. It's a quality she's brought with great effect to role after role. It's there in the confession scene in Eyes Wide Shut, in which she reveals her unfulfilled sexual fantasies to a greatly shaken Tom Cruise. It's there in the powerful theatre close-up in Birth, and it's what underpins her entire, compelling performance as Isabel Archer in Portrait of a Lady as a woman in retreat from suffocating conventionality, and in thrall to her passionate nature.

Of her portrayal of Grace Kelly she said in a recent interview: "There's an idiosyncratic French feel printed on it. I wanted there to be a living, breathing human being; not just a cut-out figure." Unfortunately, Kidman's desire to cling on to her youth has turned her into a kind of living doll. It's no real surprise then that her performance is plastic.

Sunday Independent

Promoted articles

Read More

Promoted articles

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice