Diana: Movie Review
Cast: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
There's no denying the power and emotional sway the so-called People's Princess held over the public.
To many, she was an icon and a paparazzi target, with her every move photographed and explored, pored over endlessly. So, it's no wonder that a film about the last two years of Princess Diana's life and her affair with Pakistani surgeon Hasnat Khan would come under such close scrutiny.
Diana, the movie, looks at those last two years and finds Naomi Watts giving her best Diana impression, from the sad-looking-down heavily-mascaraed eyes to the tilting to one side of her head. But it's hard to really shake the feeling that you're watching anyone other than Watts in this film, which, is to be frank, more suited to a small screen and is over-dramatic tosh, filled with corny one-liners which are more suited to the page than the screen.
Written by playwright Stephen Jeffreys, the film tries to polish and sparkle and consequently suffers under the same scrutiny afforded Diana in her lifetime. With paparazzi buzzing around Diana from the beginning, it's clear the film-makers are trying to ensure you're in her corner, but this is a film which never shies away from the darker sides of this after-life canonised saint.
Of the famous "There were three of us in this marriage" interview with Martin Bashir, Watts' Diana's shown rehearsing her lines in front of a make-up mirror, exposing the fact this woman had her foibles. It's a brave move which is somewhat torpedoed by the fact Watts tries her best in her impression but can't manage to pull it off when it truly counts. Moments which display Diana's humanitarian concerns come close to clinching the reason she was so beloved, but just fail to meet the mark.
Elsewhere, Lost star Naveen Andrews is reduced to a stoic, stuffy, cigarette smoking cardiac surgeon whose emotionless veneer wouldn't go amiss in a remake of Casablanca; consumed with his career first,he desperately wants to be with Watts' Lady Di somehow. A lack of real chemistry between the two is fatal and the wooden acting which ensues, reducing Diana to some kind of giggling school girl who's discovered her first crush, is almost cringe-worthy, no matter how much truth it may or may not be based on.
Soapy cheesy dialogue leads you to thinking that the slightly stalkerish Diana, who skulks about at night (wearing an even worse wig than the blonde one afforded to Watts) to see him at work in the hospital, has been rendered directly from the pages of a book which may be best described as trashy. While Andrews and Watts work with what little there is, director Oliver Hirschbiegel who brought us Downfall does little to enhance the experience, which is all lavish style and very little substance at all, leaving you reeling at the sight of a Mills and Boon doomed romance playing out in front of you on the big screen. An absence of any of the rest of the Royal Family, bar two people playing Wills and Harry, makes the whole thing reek of a lack of real context. (I should at this stage point out I'm not a Royalist or Diana fan at all)
All in all, Diana the movie is car-crash viewing of the worst kind; stuck between neither fish nor fowl and definitely not in the so-bad-it's-good category, not one person emerges from this overlong car-wreck of a movie with any kind of credibility in tact thanks to the lack of insight or character within.