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The new reverential biopic about the Princess of Wales is saddled with dialogue so sappy and melodramatic that it wouldn’t be out of place in a discounted romance novel from Poundland; a most unpleasant surprise given the high-class talent involved. The dead Princess deserved more than this regrettably lite attempt to dissect her mindset which is marred by one fundamental factor: Political Correctness. Amidst this dreary overkill in dreamy historical bias, Naomi Watts struggles in the title role thanks to her lack of resemblance to the titular historical figure.
Even the director seems blithely unaware that his leading lady looks nothing like the icon that she is playing. The movie opens up the crackling sound of news report detailing her relationship with Dodi Al Fayed, just weeks before her death and then, abruptly, changes to a soft focus steady cam. The camera revolves around Watts, never truly revealing her face in that pivotal moment in the final few hours of her life in which got into that lift.
The film then cuts back two years ago when she is greeted by hoards of crowds. She turns around, in a grandiose like unveiling, to reveal Naomi Watts who looks utterly dissimilar to Diana. Watts not only looks nothing like herself but nothing like the Princess either; ten inches shorter, in an unconvincing prosthetic nose and a wig that doesn’t match the ash blonde hair that her real-life counterpart had. Additionally Watts’s vocal pitch seems too have gone up several notches as she mistakes Diana’s feminine voice for shrillness.
Watts plays her at the peak of her fame; charting the events from her 1995 BBC interview with Martin Bashir, her advocacy with regards to landmines, her divorce and her tragic death. Yet these fascinating events are given shorter shrifts – turned into truncated episodic segments within the movie—as a lesser known romantic subplot is allowed to not only take centre stage but dominate the entire movie.
When going to the hospital to comfort her friend and acupuncturist, Oonagh Toffolo (played by lovely Geraldine James), Diana is introduced to ‘dashing’ heart surgeon, Dr Hasnat Khan (an inanimate Naveen Andrews). Initially he seems indifferent to the Princess but, after a brief fluttering of her mascara laden eye lashes and her multiple visits to the hospital, he gradually succumbs to her charms. The pair pursue a heated relationship ‘behind close doors’ whilst the paparazzi and Diana’s duties as a Princess consistently loom in the background. As Diana ironically mentions in the film, ‘I have got two families. How lucky is that?’
The film makers are aware of the paparazzi’s indictment of the romance that may have caused its failure; too bad their writing is so half assed to exploit the opportunity to explore romance under the eye of worldwide scrutiny.
Every scene is brimming over with the worst dialogue imaginable. ‘You reach a place inside yourself where time has no meaning: You don’t perform an operation the operation performs you’ and ‘pretty hot eh….You in the kitchen? ‘
‘I love feeling your hand there’, says Diana as they lay in bed together, his hand gently touching her chin. She then says dreamily: ‘That day when I first saw you…so powerful. Don’t think I have ever been so struck by someone… It’s like nothing could distract you. Just doing your job without any sense of self.’
There’s more: ‘Mr Wonderful, come in!!’ Another scene in the film involves Hasnat his arms wrapped around Diana saying, ‘My beautiful…….. I am so proud of you. You did it’. And finally, during another excruciating scene in which Diana tries to woo Hasnat with a quote from the Quran she replies, ‘I studied Islam a few years ago when I was preparing a trip to Pakistan. You see, I was preparing for you before I even knew you.’
Numerous contemporary and posthumous sources depict the Princess of Wales in both her finer and perverse moments, so it comes as a disappointment that film makers have not moulded the material into a relatively engrossing character portrayal. Her turbulent relationship with her royal family, her failed marriage with the Prince of Wales, the bitter rivalry with Camilla Parker Bowles, her relationship with her children and many other historical events, are kept into the background whilst the dreary romance is thrust clumsily forward.
Sadly it’s a choppily edited, heavily episodic, drearily filmed slog through the last two years of her life. The plot’s bizarre structure – slushy Mills & Boons romance, punctuated by chunky historical events—robs the movie of the opportunity to the explore the mindset of the ‘most famous woman who ever lived’.
It seems that producers are aware of the embittered reactions that any controversial presentation of the Princess may present. The result is this watered down biopic, angled for die-hard romantics and Diana fans who still cast her in a reverential light. Political correctness has won the day, in a film so lightweight, it makes one crave for the banality of similar themed biopic ‘The Iron Lady’.
Diana is a 2013 biographical drama film, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, about the last two years of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales. The screenplay is based on Kate Snell’s 2001 book Diana: Her Last Love, and was written by Stephen Jeffreys. British-Australian actress Naomi Watts plays the title role of Diana.