Diana, which hits theaters in the US today, is a film starring Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews. Inspired by the book Diana: Her Last Love by Kate Snell, the film looks at the last two years of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, through her infamous interview, her divorce, the lady coming into royalty, and her death. The film, and the book, which was written with extensive interviews with close friends and confidantes, also tells the tale of Diana’s last love, or is it first? Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, Diana shines the light on her secret love affair with heart surgeon Dr. Haznat Khan and the complications they face because she was the most famous woman in the world.
As a movie there should be nothing more compelling than Diana’s story, and through this film you see a little known side of the woman, but I doubt it is a true reflection. Throughout the film, she is portrayed as someone who is a bit man obsessed who pretends she can cook and that she knows about medicine to get her man. She is a woman who is very on the edge, very needy, manipulative, and yet lost at the same time. The worse thing is that this portrayal cheapens the story of Diana’s success. You never really felt that she led with the heart as she said in the interview. The film made it seem that she did these amazing things, like exposing the landmine problem in Angola, so that Haznat will love her. You never really got the feel of her coming out of the shadows and into the light and becoming the humanitarian that she was. The story was interesting but got lost in the telling and the movie was poorer for it.
Through the many angled sequences the director tried to establish a mood, but that got in way of the story instead of enhancing it. I don’t know what was the obsession of showing her walk from the back, or just shots framing her feet, but it really distracted from the narrative and slowed the film down and had no real feeling. The film, the screenplay, the scenes and they way there were framed lacked depth and it made it tedious to watch.
Naomi Watts had wonderful moments in Diana. She hits many of Diana’s mannerisms perfectly, but sometimes she used them too much and you felt like she was acting as Diana not being Diana. In other scenes she was just Diana, and every emotion she felt you felt along with her. Naveen Andrews as Hasnat Khan was very good as well but there were moments when he was almost too reserved and you felt nothing, even looking into his eyes. The two together were outstanding and each scene felt real, which is a high compliment with the material that they had to work with. The scenes between Diana and Hasnat were lovely – they lit up the screen but again she seemed almost desperate in parts. It felt like it was for show rather than real life. I never could understand or feel why the two fell in love.
Another big minus were some of the lines and scenes in the screenplay. There were some ‘Oh, there is no way she would have said that’ lines and some ‘no way could she have done that’ scenes that added to the lack of reality in a film about a real person. For example, Diana says “I’m not sure you can actually make a hamburger” or “I think I have a right to be confused when up against a gorgeous creature like you. Plus I’m a princess and I get what I want.” Really? Or standing outside his apartment building yelling for him and the paparazzi aren’t surrounding her; uh, no! Oh, and the scene where she is walking, well, actually strutting, down the street in a brown wig, and no one notices it is the Princess of Wales?
I do have to say that I had a bit of trouble with the screener that I was watching and had to keep stopping and starting over and the film and the story of her intrigued me so much that I kept on going so I could see what happened next. But it was Diana and Naomi’s performance as Diana not the film that made me want to see more.
Did I love it, no, but nor did I hate it; I just wanted more of Diana and less of who they acted her to be.