WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Focusing on the last couple of years of her life, Diana tells the story of the elicit(ish) love affair between Princess Diana of Wales and the apparent last love of her life, heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Is it really still to soon to talk about it? It's been, what, nearly two decades since Princess Diana's tragic death, but if Diana is any indication, we still have some way to go yet.
Diana is the first major film to place its focus squarely on Lady Di since that day at the end of August 1997, but it's so listless, so anaemic, so bland an effort that one wonders why they even bothered in the first place. It is nowhere near the – if you pardon the unfortunate phrase – car crash that many of its one-star reviews have painted it as, but that's because it doesn't try hard enough to be that interesting.
While watching Diana, it's impossible to shake the feeling that everyone involved in the film is too trepidatious to engage with its subject head on. Want proof, check out the very odd interview that Naomi Watts had with BBC Radio Five Live's Simon Mayo (it's pretty easy to find on the interwebs) where this beloved, experienced actor was very much on the defensive when it came to answering even the most straightforward and innocuous of Mayo's questions, going so far as to even end the interview a couple of minutes earlier than she was supposed to.
It's possible, of course, that she was simply unhappy with how the film came out, but everything on screen points towards her and everyone else involved being genuinely scared of what they were doing with this film. Even the basic story of the film seems tailor made to have as little to say on who Diana was as a person as possible.
Diana is very careful to ensure that it's no autobiography – hell, it's not even a hagiography. Princess Diana was clearly a major figure in 20th century culture and, by all accounts, she was a fairly intriguing personality, but the film only bothers with a part of her life that doesn't exactly show her at her most interesting.
Diana's relationship with Hasnat Khan may well have been of great importance to the two people involved in the relationship, but to the rest of us, it effectively boils down the last, tumultuous years of this major public personality into a romance that is neither particularly convincing, nor even remotely engaging. It's basically Mills and Boon Presents: Di and Hasnat (not the most catchy of titles, I admit) but with a dollop of extra cheese and even worse dialogue.
People have accused the film of being essentially a TV movie, but I think that's probably unfair to some of the better TV movies out there. Lets just say that if it did go straight to TV (like the “too gay” Behind the Candelabra did in the US), it wouldn't exactly be sweeping up at the next year's Emmys.
The writing is fairly terrible, the direction lifeless and the acting uninspired, with even the usually excellent Naomi Watts struggling to keep her head above water. For the first time ever, Ms Watts doesn't only fail to immerse herself into her character, as her performance here comes dangerously close to being little more than an overly mannered impression.
Again, it's not absolutely terrible and, who knows, it's entirely possible that fans of rubbish romance novels will find what to enjoy in Diana, but the rest of us are just going to have to wait a little while – or perhaps even a long while – for a Diana film that actually does the Lady justice.