Diana is not about Diana’s death at all; it is merely a rom-com about her doomed love life and Diana’s illusive belief that she can regulate the media. The film is interested in showing one real thing: a wonderful princess who is in love. After all, she is the Princess of Hearts.
Despite all the love, I struggled to be moved by this film. At times, I was beginning to feel something, but then it was quickly shattered by schlocky romance. The movie lasts nearly 2 hours and the trouble is, the film’s romantic storyline struggles to sustain this length. It’s blatant that the producers are being careful not to offend – you can’t blame them – but this caution makes the film rather lightweight and dreary, even at the most hasty of times. By the end of the film, I felt horribly neutral and was definitely fed up with the penetrating sound of multiple shutter buttons releasing – a result of the endless media intrusion depicted throughout the biopic.
The film also lacks subtly, there is no mystery or tension, and thus everything is laid out plainly before our eyes. It is, like I said, a schlocky romance. The dialogue, therefore, leans towards the expository; it celebrates Diana’s fame and popularity, yet this is the very thing her character is aiming to steer wholly from. Apparently, Diana could be devious and sometimes ruthless – the film completely deviates these mannerisms, killing the potential life of this picture.
Oliver Hirschbiegel is bitterly disappointing; one would expect more from his noble filmography. There is little flair to his direction in Diana and no real aptitude towards the romance. Maybe he should have stuck to depicting the last 12 days of Diana’s life, as he did Hitler’s in Downfall (a great film by the way).
In real life, Diana called her heart surgeon lover, Hasnat Khan, (played in the film by Naveen Andrews) ‘Mr Wonderful’. My question here is: why does the film depict him as solitary, unhealthy, aggravating and, quite simply, a rude gentleman? It certainly doesn’t make the love affair more interesting, if anything it makes you wonder why Diana put herself through so much trouble… He is also unwilling to put love before his career. Frankly, by the end, we don’t care for his loss (the break-up) – though it is rumored that Diana ended the relationship and not Khan (the film portrays the opposite). Khan also initiates some idiocies such as “you don’t perform the operation, the operation performs you.” Did this imprudent man (how he is represented in the film) really win over the kind, generous and beautiful heart of our nation’s treasure? However, I really can’t help feeling sorry for Dr. Kahn, wherever he may be.
Though, you couldn’t pick a better actress than Naomi Watts to play Diana, I struggle to confess, I felt she was fatally lacking glamour whilst carrying out her role. Christopher Tookey puts the facts in pace: “Watts is noticeably at least five inches too short, nowhere near as athletic in her build, and eight years too old.” This is true, but more than these physical features, Watts was just too normal, she didn’t have the charm, maybe she wasn’t English enough? If there was flair, it didn’t shine through the lens. However, she does manage to imitate Diana’s walk and rhythms – Hirschbiegel liked to accentuate this through low tracking shots (a nice arty touch). Beside all this, you still have to praise Naomi Watts for taking on such a demanding and risky role – I’m still a fan.
A statement worth noting of some aptitude in Hirschbiegel’s direction is also when, at the start of the film, Dianna is walking down a hotel corridor, with the camera emphatically following her, when she suddenly turns to look at us (down the lens). At this point, the camera reverses and tracks backwards away from her, a sense that life itself is leaving her. There is a long pause before everything carries on as normal. The omnibus grumble on the soundtrack also heightens a daunting atmosphere.
Another oddity is the fact that Diana appears distant from her children who she so dearly loved; they appear on-screen once, briefly. Also, Prince Charles and the rest of the Royal Family are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps mirroring their absence from Dianna’s life, or just the Royal Family receiving another rubdown of their vanity. Although the film is ultimately on Diana’s side, she nevertheless becomes cruel due to her devious acts with Dodi Fayed (Cas Anver) to make Hasnat jealous. The wonderful, kind Diana is only momentarily portrayed positively when she is shown to be supporting the campaign to abolish minefields, and raising considerable amounts of money. It also highlighted, almost in idiotic fashion that every stranger who passes Diana jumps up grinning with glee like a possessed child. True, one would be excited, but this seems desperately fictional. We also get a sense of fun through Diana’s personality, which presumably comes through her being in love. She shouts: “Last one back to the car is a squashed tomato,” when out romancing on the cliff tops with Hasnat. Diana is a mixed bag, but the bag is losing its buoyance.
The narrative, as I’ve stressed greatly by now, is comparable to an archetypal rom-com. It makes me wonder what Oliver Stone or the makers of The Queen might have offered?
At the end of the day, it’s sixteen years later and audiences, young and old, are being summoned to a great biopic, which really isn’t so great at all. It seems as if media intrusion is going around in circles here, just let Diana rest in peace.