<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Oliver Hirschebiegel. Starring Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Charles Edwards, Juliet Stevenson
You’ll probably see better quality biopic mini series on HBO but Diana isn’t as horrible as everyone says it is. Forget it’s about the most famous (real) princess that every lived and it’s a passable little film.
Diana is apparently somewhat based on Kate Snell’s book Diana: Her Last Love.
I’ll tell you the feeling I got watching Diana: that it was about two regular lovers who couldn’t be together for their own reasons and the drama that unfolds therein. Hirschebiegel has left out the glam and gloss of a royal princess – this Diana is post separation from hubby Charles – and now more of a girl trying to find her footing and place in the world.
On a trip to a hospital, because she just loves those, she bumps in to a ‘handsome’ (debatable) Pakistani doctor Hansat Khan who knows what he’s doing and treats her like a normal person. Of course she falls in love with him. She then asks here spiritual advisor and friend Sonia (Juliet Stevenson) how to woo him. Being chastised by her PR doesn’t stop her from this dalliance that turns covert and then is uncovered. Our private Pakistani man can’t take the media glare and this causes some friction between the two.
But Diana is a go-getter and she’ll ride in the dickey of a car past the paparazzi and climb over backyard fences more to protect the good doctor than herself. She even does a bit of housecleaning for the sometimes volatile Pakistani doctor and visits his family in Pakistan (you’ll be surprised at some of the stuff she got upto! No wonder the Queen was livid with her.). Yes you noticed I’ve said Pakistani a couple of times. And it hits me that I’m being racist in thinking that all Pakistani men are like that. Domineering, violent tempers, private, traditional, hypocritical and self-obsessed. Well I blame the media for these stereotypes in my head!
Diana’s actual death is not really dealt with in the film. Because they want to portray two lovers and tragedy as well as give her work on humanitarian causes a look over. But this doesn’t always work because at times you wonder whether these are photo ops or genuine missions of mercy.
We all love Naomi Watts and the poor English-Australian actor has tried to do her best, but I gather that she realised what a horrible mistake she made and sort of lost interest at some point. Lousy dialogue doesn’t help her. Naveen Andrews as the love interest is suitably intense but equally moronic and lacking in credibility. But then she did marry a duck like Charles so maybe it’s something else she is attracted to.
Her transformation from a bumbling lover into a veteran media manipulator and consummate actress to make her former lover jealous is interesting to watch.
I have to tell you what happened at the press show:
Half way through two unlikely gentlemen walk in. Never seen them before. In the interval, they whip out cameras and ask, “Where’s Naomi?” We’re like, “What?” This is a press show for humble journos being served the same snacks we’ve been served for the last 8 years and you think Naomi Watts is going to be here in the basement of the Nehru Planetarium at the NFDC preview theatre, as nice as it is?
But what an irony folks. Diana was stalked by the paparazzi and now here we had two daft photogs gate-crashing a press show to snap up Naomi Watts.
Apart from one brilliant scene of camera work where a red background transforms into a red carpet there isn’t much to dazzle your eyes here. Diana has some moments, which will make you smile only because the actors have tried to squeeze out something from the limp screenplay.
Expect more Queen of Burgers than the Queen of Hearts and you’ll be okay.
PS: I have to say I still found this film much better than the Steve Jobs biopic Jobs.