Diana not up to its namesake
DIANA ( M) Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel ( Downfall) Starring: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Juliet Stevenson, Douglas Hodge.
IT starts and ends with the moments leading up to the tragic death of the late Princess of Wales in a traffic tunnel in Paris. And in between? Well, Diana isn’t quite the cinematic car crash many English critics have pre- emptively proclaimed it to be.
Nevertheless, as far as biopics go, it is just about as dozy and dim- witted as a mistold life story on screen can get.
Some of the dialogue is howlingly off- topic (“yes, I’m a mad bitch!” says Diana with disarming cheeriness at one point).
A lot of the juicy stuff that veteran Dianaphiles will be thirsting for has been squeezed right out of the script.
Dodi? He’s just a quiet bloke with a boat Diana was using to make her real boyfriend jealous.
Prince Charles? You hear him talking on the telly once. Diana complains in a very roundabout way about what a dud husband he was. But otherwise, there’s no Chuck for your buck.
The Queen and the rest of that interfering, we- are- not- amused gang at Buckingham Palace? Not a mention.
In fact, the film seems to go far, far out of its way not to offend any living, breathing royals.
Again, if it’s scandal you’re after, you are not going to get what you’re after here.
What you will get is a fairly dull ( and occasionally, unintentionally comical) runthrough of Diana’s secret love affair with London- based Pakistani heart surgeon Haznat Khan ( played by Naveen Andrews). Broadly based on a bitsy book called
Diana: Her Last Love by Kate Snell, the years glossed over, in very fuzzy detail, are 1995 to 1997. If you need to know the rest, there’s always Wikipedia, I guess.
Then there’s the unavoidable fact that Australian star Naomi Watts has only the faintest semblance of a resemblance to Diana Spencer.
She can wear the couture clothes and the wavy hairdos convincingly, but if you slapped the same threads and wigs on, say, Shane Warne, the direct likeness would be in the same ballpark as Watts.
Performance- wise, Watts rarely finds a way to humanise the iconic character she is playing. There are some fascinating flickers of what might have been in a few scenes where Diana’s famous campaign against landmines is covered.
However, there are five times as many scenes ( Diana swears! Diana hides in the boot of a car! Diana can’t cook pasta! Diana can play the piano! Diana can vacuum the lounge!) where Watts is hung out to dry by some very soppy scripting.