Starring: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Geraldine James, Juliet Stevenson, Cas Anvar (Rated M – 113 min).
Despite what I say as a movie analyst, people will see Diana for curiosity value alone. Not a complete biography, rather a focus on the period of life after Princess Diana was still married to, but separated from Prince Charles, followed by her romance with a Pakistani heart surgeon in London then leading up to the car crash and sad demise in France.
Viewers beware: this is a very average movie made watchable by Australian actress Naomi Watts (dual Oscar nominee for Mullholland Drive, The Impossible) who was actually second choice for the role after fast rising star Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) had to pull out for scheduling conflicts. However, I am grateful Naomi accepted the challenge, if it wasn’t for her participation and obvious dedication, Diana would simply rival a mere made for television midday matinee. The mannerisms, voice, walk and overall expressional look of Lady Di is recreated to perfection by Watts, who tries extremely hard reciting the words of a truly atrocious script. Frequent unintentional comedy filter through scene after scene where serious moments are meant to be. The ridiculous dialogue is uncomfortably bad.
Sparks fly after Diana meets a laid back Doctor during one of her good Samaritan hospital visits, they continue a torrid, secret affair which isn’t, as one would assume, all smooth going. Not since The English Patient has Naveen Andrews been so boring. His portrayal of the junk food loving and dedicated smoker Dr Hasnet Khan is a continuous embarrassment. It doesn’t help that the character is a total jerk who doesn’t know how lucky he is. At times he seems aloof the world adores his girlfriend, continuously ridiculing their privacy restrictions. They are in love, she feels unlike a Princess and more like a real person, but the relationship goes awry after many hurdles.
An incredible show of strength, loved the world over, Diana’s humanitarian work in third world countries and campaigning for a peaceful existence is elaborated successfully. These are the most interesting aspects of the story. Moving on (if the audience is still awake), the inevitable introduction to entrepreneur Dodi Fayed is slight, but does look at the deliberately orchestrated photo opportunities on a yacht Diana herself tipped off to the paparazzi.
As this is inspired by, not based on, the book ‘Her Last Love’ from author Kate Snell, wondering how much of the movie is real will become a problem. The costume gowns and swimsuits of the era are another rare asset in this stumbling movie, Naomi Watts is a revelation as Lady Di and really the only reason to watch it.
Shane A. Bassett