Diana Movie Review
Naomi Watts is a terrific actress who looks like Princess Diana, so it's no surprise that she was cast as the controversial British royal in Diana. More surprising is that the movie, from the director of the powerful Downfall, is a safe and forgettable romantic drama.
The movie covers the final two years of Diana's life as she carries on a secret affair with a middle eastern heart surgeon (played by "Lost" star Naveen Andrews) and deals with nonstop and aggressive media coverage at every turn.
Director Oliver Hirschbiegel, working off a script by Stephen Jeffreys (The Libertine), shows us how Princess Diana meets and falls in love with the doctor, her attempts to rid the world of landmines and some of the moments leading up to her shocking death in Paris. Unfortunately, he never goes beneath the surface to give the audience something new or interesting. The film is a snapshot of her life, an incomplete biopic. Long after her death, Princess Diana is still one of the most recognized people on the planet; Hirschbiegel needed to tell a story people didn't already know, and he fails to do so.
The story arc surrounding her hidden romance is done well enough, but Diana makes it seem like that romance is what defined her in her final years. At the end of the movie, onscreen text informs us about how landmine usage has dropped considerably since Diana took a stand, but Hirschbiegel only devotes one real scene to her fight against landmines. If this part of her life was important enough to note at the end, why didn't he dive deeper into the side story, something that most people probably don't know a whole lot about?
Also, what was her relationship with her sons during this period? They are never shown and rarely mentioned.
Rumors about Princess Diana's death persist to this day, but strangely Hirschbiegel doesn't even attempt to portrayal the woman's final minutes. While some could argue that not showing the car crash that killed her is respectful, the move to cut everything that contributed to her death from the production is in reality a cop-out.
Despite a decent performance by Naomi Watts and a strong one from Naveen Andrews, Diana falls flat due to the filmmakers' decisions to focus on the least interesting aspects of her life and unwillingness to deliver nothing more than a safe and straightforward retelling of things we already knew.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.