Written by Justin Datu.
In Diana, director Oliver Hirschbiegel offers us a glimpse into the life of a woman who fascinated the world in both her life and death. Unfortunately, it is a look that is sickeningly saccharine, focusing on Princess Diana’s whirlwind love affair with her heart surgeon and layering that romance with enough schmaltz and sugary sweetness to make Nicholas Sparks cringe.
To her credit, the wonderfully talented Naomi Watts does her best with what she was given and she was able to craft a serviceable imitation of Princess Diana and her iconic tilts, poses and inflections. Unfortunately, this imitation is just that, an imitation, an impression rather than a performance, with little in the way of compelling emotion. Perhaps with a better script, Watts could have given us something more interesting. But even the best actors can only do so much with the lines they are given. It is the script that truly lets the film down.
Many of the scenes hinge on the banter between Diana and her surgeon lover, Hasnat Khan, played by Naveen Andrews. Unfortunately, almost all of these scenes fall flat. This is partly due to the fact that Watts and Andrews have no chemistry to speak of, but it is the writing that carries the brunt of the blame. The dialogue is painfully stilted and disingenuous, tiresome in its failed attempts to be clever. Many of the lines from both Diana and Khan are cringe worthy (“You don’t perform the operation. The operation performs you.” This made me actually burst out in laughter) and these exchanges repeat throughout the film. This brings us to yet another problem: the film is mind numbingly repetitive, making a long film seem even longer.
It is a shame, because both Watts and Oliver Hirschbiegel have proven themselves to be so talented in the past. Watts has a catalogue of great films and performances under her name and Hirschbiegel’s Hitler biopic, Downfall, was an unflinching and very human look at a monster that earned him much acclaim. But here, they both missed the mark entirely, creating a movie that is both cringe-inducingly soppy and devoid of any real emotional weight.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10