I had heard that the British press was skewering Diana, so I was a little nervous going into the film and, I admit, had very low expectations. As it turns out, the film is not as terrible as I had heard. But still.
Diana, starring Naomi Watts, is the story of the last 2 years of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales and her love affair with Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon. The film makes a concerted effort to make Diana look as human and “down-to-earth” as possible, and the result is that the film just isn’t that exciting. A bit dull actually. It could easily have been a movie of the week about any two people from different cultures trying to make a relationship work. I have an image of Diana as beautiful and glamorous, I don’t really want to think of her crying on a park bench in London with torn stockings or climbing a fence.
Focusing primarily on the relationship with Khan, it goes off-track a little bit and explores some of her humanitarian efforts in those 2 years. By just focusing on those 2 years, it minimizes the greater humanitarian achievements throughout her entire life, and seems an afterthought. It doesn’t truly capture the great ambassador for humanity that she was, and the profound impact she had on several different causes. In between the flashes that demonstrate her humanitarian side, we get to see her struggling through her affair with Khan, and some less admirable qualities of her personality, such as a clingy, near obsessive side, as well as a bit of manipulation as she contacts the press so they can photograph her dallying with Dodi Fayed in order to make Khan jealous. Her relationship with Fayed is completely trivialised in the film, and he hardly even speaks.
The best thing about the movie is Naomi Watts. As expected, she did a brilliant job considering the material she had to work with. I felt she really nailed Diana in many subtle ways like the soft, slightly husky tones of her voice, or the way she would lower her head and look up when speaking, or purse her lips to the side to punctuate a sentence. She really delivers on the role, and proves once again that she is one of the most talented actors working in film today.
Diana is a film that can’t really decide what it wants to be. It’s not salacious, as there isn’t really anything new in it that we didn’t already know. It doesn’t really capture her humanitarian achievements since it only focuses on a small window of her life. And the central story it is trying to tell, in between the distractions, just isn’t that interesting unfortunately. An ordinary film about such an extraordinary woman is always going to be a little disappointing.
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::: Renowned For Sound Technical Director and Film Reviewer ::: Robert is an IT geek, movie fan and part-time movie reviewer/editor. Robert also looks after the ‘behind the scenes’ technical elements of Renowned For Sound.