The new biographical drama Diana from German director Oliver Hirschbiegel was released in
The problem is clear. First and foremost, Diana is not a particularly good film. It deals with just the last two years of her amazing life, and while what we know of Lady Diana’s real life story is a truly fascinating and tragic one, joining her in the final stages when, frankly, all the good stuff is done is like picking up a juicy novel and reading only the last few pages.
Another issue for
Naomi Watts is a good choice for the princess. Despite some unkind words from
“There were three of us in the marriage,” Diana states in a re-enactment of a TV interview with the BBC. “So it was a bit crowded.” It’s a famous quote, but hearing it again reminds us of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that occurred with the most famous family in the world during a time when the world was being presented a much different picture. Concentrating on the after effects is not nearly as interesting as the politics of being royal, and hearing the quote only serves as a reminder of what this film is not covering.
However, there is still an odd sense of fascination while watching Diana go about her daily business, doing everyday things that we might not ordinarily associate with the princess. Our impression is that of someone who is constantly under the protective guidance of others paid to assist the young princess in everything she says and does, and we certainly see that. But occasionally Diana manages to break free from the confines and demands of a public image and sneaks around
The final twenty minutes or so are the most unfocused. Once the love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnet Khan (Naveen Andrews from TV’s Lost) is over, the film concentrates on those final days with Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar) leading up to the terrible crash, which we never witness, but the scenes appear disconnected. We’re never sure where the story is leading and we never get to know Fayed. For a teenager who was born shortly after Lady Diana died and has little or no knowledge of the people’s princess or why she was known as ‘The Queen of Hearts,’ there is nothing in those final scenes that would tell them what was going on. Fayed is practically an unknown entity, even though he’s there. What her relationship with the Egyptian born son of a billionaire is and why she’s even on his yacht is never made clear. When the film fades, you’re left not so much with a feeling of sadness but of relief that it’s finally done.
The truth is, Diana is a miscalculation. Outside of a documentary that would cover the full picture, it’s simply too early to make a re-enactment with professional actors. A few more decades, perhaps, but even if the time was right, the finished product would need to be clearer and cover far more interesting ground than the one director Oliver Hirschbiegel has delivered.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 107 Minutes Overall Rating: 4 (out of 10)
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David Appleford is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the American Theatre Critics Association
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