Originally published in the Big Issue.
Focusing on the ‘forbidden romance’ between Princess Diana (Naomi Watts) and heart surgeon Dr Khan (Lost’s Naveen Andrews), Diana is more daytime telemovie than suspenseful, moving cinema.
While director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall, 2004) bookends this biopic with a shot of the Princess leaving her hotel in Paris on that fateful—and fatal—night, the intended sense of poignant foreboding isn’t present.
From certain angles or at an obvious distance, there’s a passing similarity between Watts’ and ‘The People’s Princess’. Yet sadly, her blow wave is the most mesmerising part of the portrayal.
The otherwise talented Watts has very little to work with here. The characterisation of Diana is confused but not layered. Princess Di is presented as a lovelorn single lady at once strikingly naïve, manipulative and full of saccharine sensitivity.
Both Watts and Andrews are given lines so hammy they verge on farcical. At best, the dialogue is overwrought and stodgy.
Most people remember they were doing when they heard of Princess Diana’s untimely death. Few will remember Diana.