Friday, 28 March 2014



If someone had submitted the script to a producer as a fictional piece, he'd have been thrown straight out of the building and had his typewriter melted down for scrap. It's so utterly implausible that the only way you could possibly have defused the absurdity would have been to play it for laughs, either by camping it up and dancing blindfold through the minefield of grotesque bad taste, or by giving it to Richard Curtis for the sweet/sour romcom treatment. Sadly Oliver Hirschbiegel opts for playing it straight and sincere, no matter how unbelievable things get, and the result is that Diana is mostly dull, closer to the inoffensive drama of The Queen than the much more interesting The Iron Lady.

Princes William and Harry get literal walk-on, walk-off appearances, otherwise the Royals themselves don't appear in the story of Diana's (Naomi Watts) relationship with Pakistan-born surgeon Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews). It appears to be love at first sight, but she's a princess and he's a commoner (and a Muslim), and with the press attention on her every move it's plainly doomed. Rather than accept the inevitable, "the most famous woman in the world" resorts to disguises, climbing over fences, becoming a mad bitch and a stalker (her own words), even visiting his family in Lahore. But ultimately it cannot work, and she takes up with Dodi Fayed instead....

Most of this is Sunday afternoon slush: indeed with a few snips for language it could play quite happily as a BBC2 matinee. But it doesn't have any dramatic oomph about it, it doesn't have any balls, it doesn't have any laughs. Nor does it go anywhere near explaining how Diana, who was many things but certainly not an idiot, could possibly have thought the relationship could have worked. Or why, having had so many bruising encounters with the paparazzi (who, frankly, are worthless parasitic pondscum the world could happily do without), she then practically invites them all to within zoom lens distance of Dodi's yacht.

Maybe it's still too soon. For all the obvious work by Naomi Watts, for all the wigs and frocks, for all the restagings of familiar moments (such as the Martin Bashir interview) it's as if the film is so scared of doing anything controversial that it would rather do nothing. Result: close on two hours of meticulously crafted but absurd piffle, laughable but impossible to laugh at. It's not terrible enough to offend or amuse, but it just doesn't work as a drama.


No sequel, then:

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