Diana opens in Berlin cinemas on January 9.
Set during the final troubled two years of her life, this biopic focuses on Princess Diana’s secret love affair with Pakastani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Downfall credentials notwithstanding, Hirschbiegel’s latest investigation of the private person behind a public persona falls far off the mark.
The film looks good enough, and some scenes, including early silent montages, work very well in depicting the trapped, alienated nature of Diana’s life. But although Watts nails the head tilts, doe-eyes and accent, providing a depth that prevents the role from becoming a flat impersonation, Naveen Andrews as Khan doesn’t have enough to work with, adding insult to the injury of a very simplistic screenplay, which more or less airbrushes out Charles, fails to portray a relationship between Diana and her sons, and presents Dodi al Fayed as a rebound media exercise intended to make Khan jealous.
Underscoring Diana’s compassion, detour scenes into Bosnian graveyards and landmined Africa feel oddly out of place. However, the greatest failing is the clunky, sentimental dialogue. These aren’t real people speaking and as such, their words fail to move the audience to engage with the film’s main focus: a lovers’ relationship.
Diana | Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (UK 2013) with Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Juliet Stevenson, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Charles Edwards, Cas Anvar. Starts January 9