Diana, the much anticipated film about the final two years of Diana, Princess of Wales’ life, opened today with limited release. The film has been met with thudding reviews and pummeling press to say the least.
In England, The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw wrote that Diana has died another awful death with this film: “This is due to an excruciatingly well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental biopic about her troubled final years, laced with bizarre cardboard dialogue — a tabloid fantasy of how famous and important people speak in private.” The Mirror‘s critic David Edwards writes that “it can only be described as a fabulously awful film.” Back in the U.S., the reviews are pretty much the same with Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer saying, “This is a TV movie all the way, in the pre-HBO network shlock sense of the term.”
Starring Academy Award nominated Naomi Watts who plays the beloved, yet troubled Princess, the film portrays the last two years of her life focusing on her ill fated relationship with the British Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan. Khan is portrayed by Naveen Andrews, best known for his roles in the television series Lost, and his fine work in the film The English Patient. The film is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and written by Stephen Jeffreys, both respected veterans. To their credit, they tried to tell a story of a mostly unknown chapter in this very public Princess’ life.
What went wrong? We here got a sneak peak and are here to say the awful reviews and vicious press are spot on, but the film could please some as a guilty pleasure — more like a Lifetime film on a Saturday night, when it’s cold outside and you have absolutely nothing better to do. Watts does manage to play the ‘People’s Princess’ with sympathy, and her longing for a man she knows she can never have — or, as it turns out, does not want her — is at times truly heartbreaking. She struggles with the same issue many women do (albeit in London’s Kensington Palace with a staff at her beck and call). Naveen plays Hasnat with an authentic “I don’t care much that you’re a Princess, I just care about being in the operating room” attitude. The usually reclusive Hasnat recently gave an interview to British newspaper The Sun denouncing the film. Bottom line: the simple and relatable moments throughout the film are what resonate most. The melodrama? Not so much. Through it all, we all know the tragic ending, and the film just does not work in pulling it all together.
What the naysayers fail to understand is that much of the audience does like to sit back and not think while watching a private part of very beloved public person’s life. Final verdict: watch it on TV. It’s damn fine zone out TV, but don’t spend your hard earned dough in the cinema!
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