Cinema Review: Diana

Naomi Watts as Diana


DIR: Oliver Hirschbiegel • WRI: Stephen Jeffreys • PRO: Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae • DOP: Rainer Klausmann • ED: Hans Funck• Cast: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Cas Anvar

“My whole life has been dramatic,” Diana, Princess of Wales, insists at some point during this utterly drama-free film covering the final two years of her life, and focusing specifically on her doomed relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Would that her remark was ironic, but irony is a quality that is sadly nowhere to be seen in this naïve-art assemblage of wooden dialogue, mannequin characters and unengaging plot. Diana may have been—as the script pleadingly reminds us a number of times—“the most famous woman in the world,” but she makes for one of the least interesting in the history of cinema. This movie-of-the-week bore is badly missing the bite that screenwriter Peter Morgan injected into his portraits of Blair and the Windsor’s in The Deal and The Queen.

Rather than offering an insight into a flesh-and-blood person, the film puppets the caricature with which we are all too familiar. How are we supposed to empathise with a dim-witted, passive-aggressive Sloane ranger who uses the press for her own purposes and then insists we feel sorry for her having to deal with the nagging presence of the press? Naomi Watts has delivered great performances in the past, but this lifeless, listless, depthless turn is one she will be working away from for some time. Much of the energy of the film is squandered on trying to ensure the character superficially matches the iconic photographs we remember of Diana. Ultimately, Diana has the emotional depth and realism of one of those romance strips from the 1980s in which photographs of actors in exaggerated poses are paired with speech bubbles filled with cheesy dialogue. The film becomes one of those endurance tests in which the mind and eye are drawn to anything but what we are supposed to be focusing on. For my part, I began to be preoccupied with catching the actors glancing down to see whether they’d hit their marks correctly.

Crass, artless and pointless, the whole film is akin to the commemorative Diana—Queen of Hearts trinkets advertised in old women’s magazines for some years following her death. An absence of realism and drama may be forgivable in cheaply decorated porcelain, but even aficionados of kitsch expect more from their movies.


Tony McKiver

12A (See IFCO for details)

113 mins
Diana is released on 20th September 2013


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