Nicole Kidman has addressed criticism surrounding her film Grace of Monaco before its opening at the Cannes Film Festival.
14 May 2014 - 10:56 PM  UPDATED 15 May 2014 - 12:00 PM

Nicole Kidman says she's saddened but understanding of "awkward" criticism from Monaco's royals over her onscreen portrayal of Grace Kelly.

Kidman stars as the actress-turned-princess in Grace of Monaco, which opens this year's Cannes Film Festival.

The Australian, her co-stars and director Olivier Dahan fronted the international media before Wednesday night's premiere, and much of the discussion centred on the controversy surrounding the film.

[ Read our SBS Movies' review of Grace of Monaco ]

The movie, which focuses on a small period in Kelly's life after she married Monaco's Prince Rainier in 1956, has drawn fierce criticism from the royal couple's children.

They called it "completely fictional", labelled the trailer a farce and will not attend the premiere despite having attended previous festivals.

Kidman admitted on Wednesday the criticism made her uncomfortable but insisted she approached the role with love.

"Obviously, I feel sad because I think the film has no malice towards the family or particularly towards Grace or Rainier," Kidman said.

"It's fictionalised, obviously - we've said it's not a biopic. There's an essence of truth but, as with a lot of things, you take dramatic licence at times."

Kidman said she also understood the criticism because of the family's desire to protect the privacy of their parents.

"It's awkward is what it is," Kidman said of the controversy.

"But I say that and I still have respect and I want them to know that the performance was done with love.

"Ultimately, if they ever did see it they would see there was an enormous amount of affection for both of their parents and the love story of their parents."

The film was screened to the international press in Cannes on Wednesday morning, drawing a muted response and only a smattering of applause.

Grace of Monaco has been panned in some early reviews. UK newspaper The Guardian gave it one star and described it as "so awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire risk".

The movie has also been the subject of a highly publicised dispute between distributor Harvey Weinstein and Dahan over the film's final cut.

After weeks of negotiating, it was announced on Wednesday that Weinstein had agreed to a new deal for an American release.

However, he is unlikely to attend the premiere in Cannes.