Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Diana (2013) review


Famously called "The People's Princess" for all the honourable humanitarian work she did, it is surprising that Diana decides to focus not so much on her work towards the crises' with landmines and AIDS, but instead on her relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. While it is not weird to know that a woman with her status, and having recently split with the Prince of Wales, would try to keep her relationship private, it is strange to see a film depict her as a Bridget Jones-type character.

You can see the intention that this film had - to show that Diana did indeed love and be loved, that she had lovers tiffs just like the rest of us. Indeed, the opportunities to show her as being "like the people" quickly grew tiresome - oh my god, she's making beans on toast, just like me! I don't know if I missed the point, but I thought she was called The People's princess because she tried to help people, not because she sucked at making pasta.


These "common" touches are some of the many mistakes that this film makes. It relies too much on prior knowledge of her history, and conversations that she has with her spiritualist (why does she have a spiritualist?) about her abandonment issues are left completely unexplained. Her ex-husband and two sons are virtually unseen throughout the whole film, leaving the context of her situation a bit vacant. The scene's where she is helping people in Angola and Bosnia are too short, and punctured with phone calls about how the press are reporting her life, leaving these scenes devoid of any of the power they had when they where originally shown on the news.

The love affair itself with Hasnat is characterised by her compromises for him. Keen to have a meaningful relationship, she goes with a man who seemingly doesn't know her. Diana wears wigs for him, buys him a Burger King, sneaks him in under blankets in the back of her car, travels to get the approval of her family, and even plans for them to live abroad. Hasnat, although he has declared his love for her, insists that he wants to carry on being a surgeon. On what could of been an interesting study of a relationship with a world famous princess, with all its difficulties and benefits, was played off like a bit of a rom-com, without the comedy.


The film delves lightly into her relationship with the paparazzi, from her literally running away from them, to her phoning up The Mirror to get photos of her on a yacht. I would have liked to have seen a much more in depth look into her relationship with the press, and that would be one of the reasons why her relationship with Hasnat failed. I don't know if it is a comment on the paparazzi or ironic, but alot of the film is shot to look like the press photo's, providing the most interesting but least developed idea in the film - that the only way we knew Diana was by what was presented of her in the media.

On another meta level, much was made of Naomi Watts wardrobe for this film in the press, and granted, most of the costumes are spot on. It is a shame therefore that they couldn't make Naomi Watts look more like Diana. She looks nothing like her! At least put a prosthetic nose on her or something.


The directing of this film is like an ITV drama, but not as good. The acting is melodramatic and the lines are delivered unconvincingly. Characters like Dodi Fayed, who also died in the car crash along with Princess Diana, are mere bit players, and it seems shameful that his part of the story is so underwritten. The ending itself happens far too quickly, and is a bit too sentimental for my liking, considering they made no real build up towards the obvious finale (which is not an excuse to not put an ending in).

While not as hate inducing as some films, Diana falls down from its laziness, expecting peoples memories of the princess to do most of the work. The complexity of her character is abandoned to a story so bland even a soap opera would abandon it. If this was meant to be a definitive biography of the princess that the title suggests, then they've made all that this woman achieved seem unremarkable.

3/10

Layla

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