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Kidman faces Cannes

Nicole Kidman
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Nicole Kidman has arrived in Cannes as the Festival De Cannes prepares to open with the first big screen adaptation of the life of Monaco’s Princess Grace.

The 46-year-old Australian actress looked classy and demure as she stepped out in Cannes on Tuesday wearing a long-sleeved, black tailored dress.

Any nerves Kidman might have ahead the film’s premiere weren’t visible as the Oscar winner smiled for the crowd of photographers following her every move.

Even before its release, this year’s Cannes opener Grace of Monaco, with Kidman as the former Hollywood star Grace Kelly who married her prince, has had its fair share of controversy.

The princely Grimaldi family has branded the film a fiction and will boycott the premiere while a transatlantic row over editing between French director Olivier Dahan and US distributor Harvey Weinstein has made headlines.

And while publicity – of any kind – often helps a film, Dahan will be hoping his movie can avoid the kind of critical mauling meted out to another recent biopic, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana.

Like Grace, Diana married a prince in a “fairy tale” wedding and captivated the world public before dying in a car crash.

Her life was hardly short on drama but Hirschbiegel’s 2013 film starring Naomi Watts as Diana bombed when it was released, taking only around $US60,000 ($A64,917.50) on its opening weekend in the US.

One reviewer described it as “fabulously awful”; another said it fell into the trap of being “excruciatingly well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental”.

Emmy Award-winning US writer and filmmaker Sheila Curran Bernard said biopics were notoriously difficult to pull off.

Dangers include directors not being free to pursue their own vision and consequently producing a movie that appears too enthralled with its subject.

“People get life rights from people, especially if you’re working with a living character but then it’s a question of whose vision of the story is it?” she told AFP by telephone from the US.

“Because what a writer or a director sees might not be the same thing that a family sees in somebody’s life…. getting approval can work out but there’s also the risk of being too celebratory to the extent that there’s nothing there,” she said.

“The risk is ending up with a film that everyone is happy with but that nobody wants to see,” she added.

Cannes Film Festival organisers have defended the right to creative licence of the makers of Grace of Monaco.

Curran Bernard said that within certain limits it was essential for film-makers to be able to create fictional scenes.

Without that freedom, she said, it was difficult to get viewers to suspend disbelief and care about what happened next.

The biopic Amadeus very much overplayed what was really there in terms of the true story of Salieri, she explained.

“But it was not a documentary and it worked as a drama,” she added.

Two other biopics at Cannes this year are Bertrand Bonello’s film about designer Yves Saint Laurent and Mike Leigh’s movie about painter JMW Turner.

The Cannes film festival will open on Wednesday and will run until May 25.