German director Oliver Hirschbiegel (of the Hitler-in-the-bunker drama Downfall) turns to another dead celebrity with this biopic Diana, following the plight of Princess Di in the last two years of her life. The biggest problem here isn’t the ‘daring’ behind chronicling her hidden loves, but the sheer awkwardness of it all.
Drawing from Kate Snell’s dubious book, this has Di (Naomi Watts) alienated by the Palace in 1995 and feeling imprisoned, before a meeting with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat ‘Mr Wonderful’ Khan (Naveen Andrews) led to them swooning, and all the problems that entailed, from what it meant for Diana’s sons to the much-discussed issue of her, perhaps, converting to Islam.
After hand-wringing, TV-movie-like arguments (all of which prove questionable, as only Khan could confirm what really happened and he wasn’t asked for approval), the most ‘surprising’ stuff here happens when Di uses an invitation to holiday with Dodi Fayed as an opportunity to make Hasnat jealous (and, um, oops!).
Including a lame supernatural aspect as she dreams of falling in darkness, this has been ferociously criticised for casting the ‘Aussie’ Watts (actually born in Kent, England), who isn’t that bad and, duh, doesn’t look exactly like Di.
But, in the end, the mightiest issue is the brave yet dopey willingness to depict her as a right royal pain in the arse.