Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Diana (2013/UK)

Julien Faddoul

(0 stars)

d – Oliver Hirschbiegel
w – Stephen Jeffreys   (Based on the Book by Kate Snell)
ph – Rainer Klausmann
pd – Kave Quinn
m – Keefus Ciancia, David Holmes
ed – Hans Funck
cos – Julian Day

p – Douglas Rae, Robert Bernstein

Cast: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Charles Edwards, Daniel Pirrie, Cas Anvar, Juliet Stevenson, Jonathan Kerrigan

Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana is a terrible film. So now that this has been established, let’s try and ascertain as to what the filmmakers intended for this project to be about, if at all. Critics have been virtually unanimous in their malice toward the film, picking it apart and disclosing each and every blunder. But I am more interested in the root. Why did anyone on the planet want to make this movie? Easy money? Hardly, otherwise a far more complacent director would have been chosen other than the gentleman who gave us The Invasion and Downfall. Respect for the central figure? Nope, otherwise a more all-encompassing story would have been told about The Princess of Wales instead of the trashy romance that the film gives us. A cinematic adaptation of a best-seller? Wrong again, otherwise the film would not have transcribed so much of Kate Snell’s book, Diana: Her Last Love, as it does.

So why?

Diana begins with her last evening, the camera emphatically ensuing her as she treads down a hotel hallway. Swiftly, our point of view reverses away from her and she turns to look back toward us. We feel as if she is detecting and distinguishing what is to come, and she is elegiacally letting us in on it. One knows they’re in trouble when, at the half-way point, one realises that the only good scene in the film had been the first.

The next 113 minutes chronicle the relationship between Diana, played by Naomi Watts and British born, Pakistani heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan, played by Naveen Andrews. The presentation is of how this relationship gave her life new meaning and encouraged her humanitarian work. We are offered interstitial glimpses of specific and seminal moments from Diana’s life. These include her now infamous Panorama interview with Martin Bashir and her walk across a minefield in Africa. Stephen Jeffreys screenplay is written in movie code. Each conversation is constructed as if it is Academy Award clip of the individual actors involved.

The romance in the film is inert. There is no chemistry between Ms Watts and Mr Andrews because both actors are focused on her. Ms Watts' portrayal of the damaged Diana is particularly unconvincing. She endeavours to sedulously duplicate Diana’s gait and cadences, but she always seems to be concentrated on Mr Hirschbiegel’s camera swirling around her. Not only is she not credible as the princess, but she isn’t even credible as an Englishwoman. She’s always Brit-ish, but never British.

The movie’s final act in grossly overlong. There are send-offs, reflections, admissions, resolutions and a whole lot of crying. In fact, there is so much crying that Diana herself becomes exasperating. We are asked to accept the fact that she was The People’s Princess and that she was a whore and everything else without any insight into why.

So I, for one, still cannot figure out why this movie was made. It’s ironic really that a movie could so blatantly violate the privacy that Diana so fiercely desired, and at the same time fail because it shares the Monarchy’s ability to be totally devoid of interest. Maybe that’s what the movie's about: Diana’s lack of interest in the Monarchy. Nevertheless, it is still a nasty little number.

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