Short Review: This sucks.
Long review: Princess Diana was an angel walking on earth and we were all lucky to spend but a few brief years sharing the planet with her radiance. Yet, somehow fate and the world were cruel enough to rob the human being with the biggest heart of all the gift of love. Well, at least those two sentences are what the people behind the overblown should-have-aired-on-TV melodrama that is Diana want you to think. The sad part is there are enough royal family adoring zombies out there who actually believe it. Thankfully, that crowd of lonely souls have diminished considerably in the years since the Princess Of Heart’s death. With any luck, most audiences unfortunate enough to have this two hour collection of half finished Hallmark card sentiments flicker before their eyes will view Diana for what it is: a big steaming pile of hero worshiping schmaltz. There’s nothing wrong with loving Princess Diana. She did some nice things with her fame and privilege between holidays. However, pretending for a second the representation of her in this film is remotely close to reality is a definite sign of insanity.
When we meet Diana (Naomi Watts, who should have known better) in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s big waste of space, the princess is entering the last few years of her life. She’s estranged from the royal family, unable to see her children regularly, constantly hounded by the paparazzi, and most tragically of all: single. Thankfully, cupid decided to fire an arrow from into Diana’s heart during one of her many visits to the hospital to help ease humanity’s suffering. She meets a heart surgeon named Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews), who appears unfazed by her massive star power. The whole “treating her like a human being” routine the good doctor cooks up works instantly. Soon Diana is obsessed with Khan and wants nothing more than for him to fall hopelessly in love with her. So she invites him to her private palace where she can quiz him with important medical questions like, “So hearts can’t actually be broken?” over Burger King (real line/scene from the movie). Since Diana as depicted here is a Disney Princess in the flesh, Khan sure enough falls in love. The only trouble is that he hates publicity and is unsure if his family will accept their union. So the two characters have that argument repeatedly for about 70 minutes. Then they break up. Then she dies. Worst of all, if Khan had called her on the morning of the car crash like he so desperately wanted to, she would have lived! End of movie. Sorry for spoilers, but who gives a shit when the film is this incredibly hoary?
Diana boasts the type of screenplay that used to court the star power of Tori Spelling for a nauseating ABC movie of the week that would be forgotten before it aired. Chances are that’s what this project started out as. Then somewhere along the line Naomi Watts signed on, presumably thinking that playing the late princess would be a surefire shot at an Oscar nomination or something. Who knows why she did it (probably money), but with a respected actress playing a dead celebrity the project instantly grew into an awards-baiting theatrical release. Sadly no one bothered to fix the script to suit the scale of the planned release. Presumably when the actually talented Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel signed on, everyone hoped he’d add some quality or purpose to the project somehow. No luck. It’s still a load of hogwash not even worthy of the undemanding TV movie faithful. It’s an absurd fantasy version of something resembling a true story designed to make Diana seem like an angel and romantic interaction between adults feel like the love fantasies twelve-year-old girls scribble in their journals.
All of which suggests that Diana is the type of laughably bad film that audiences can attend ironically for giggles of superiority. Sadly, that’s not even the case. Granted, the seduction scenes between Diana and Hasnat have a certain trainwreck charm that’ll look great isolated on youtube. However, that’s about 15 minutes of a two-hour movie. The rest is just clichéd, dull, and unrelentingly cheesy. It’s not a fun disaster like say Lindsay Lohan’s Elizabeth Taylor biopic. It’s just a boring, bad movie.
Part of that can probably be blamed on Watts. While some actresses might have gone for broke on this role and delivered a deliriously over-the-top stab at an Oscar (again, Lohan), Watts underplays and tries to make it real. Sadly, she’s too good of an actress for this movie to be the floppy mess necessary for ironic cult appreciation. That’s not to say she’s good in the movie. No actress could make this dialogue work. However, the dignity and earnestness she brings to the portrayal limits the camp comedy appeal to only a few select scenes. So, there’s really no reason to see Diana. It’s as bad as you’d image if not worse and less fun than a conversation with a sicko paparazzi. The movie is just a big waste of time. So let’s all agree to let it fade into obscurity without wasting our time on judging why. This time, it’s just not worth it.