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'Grace of Monaco' serves up large helping of Cannes polemic

Friday, May 9, 2014

A file photo taken on April 19, 1956 shows Prince Rainier III of Monaco and US actress and princess of Monaco Grace Kelly saluting the crowd as they leave Saint Nicholas' Cathedral after their wedding ceremony in Monaco.

PARIS - Take a furious princely family, add a transatlantic row between prominent movie personalities, top with Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman and you get the opening film of the 67th Cannes Film Festival.

The biopic "Grace of Monaco" premieres on Wednesday at the start of the glitzy event, and already it is mired in controversy that threatens to cast a cloud over the very festival that allowed Grace Kelly to meet Prince Rainier III in 1955.

She wed him soon after in what the press dreamily described as the "the marriage of the century", renouncing her career as the glamorous actress every American girl wanted to emulate and taking on the official role of a princess.

But rather than illustrate her life as a whole, the film focuses on a period of high tensions between the tiny rock and France in 1962 that prompted the princess to turn down an offer by Alfred Hitchcock to return to her beloved acting.

'Totally fictional'

While these are well-documented events, the movie is not to everyone's liking - least of all Grace's children who have furiously disavowed it.

Prince Albert II and his sisters Caroline and Stephanie insist that the film, which also features British actor Tim Roth as Prince Rainier, does not accurately portray events involving their mother.

"The trailer appears to be a farce and confirms the totally fictional nature of this film," they said last week in a statement.

"The Princely Family does not in any way wish to be associated with this film which reflects no reality and regrets that its history has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes."

For the film's French director Olivier Dahan - who was behind the award-winning biopic of Edith Piaf "La Vie en Rose" - the reaction is "a little disproportionate".

He told the Le Parisien weekly magazine this month that the family had been given "several versions" of the script and had "suggested several modifications", some of which were taken into account.

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