Naomi Watts’ portrayal of the late Princess Diana was theatrical and forced but that wasn’t the film’s only downfall.
The film about “the most famous woman in the world” did not expose anything of any real significance and did not fit into a biography, giving the impression of an extended Days of Our Lives episode.
Clever camera techniques quickly gave way to unctuous scenes involving the princess waiting by multiple cellphones and Watts’ Australian accent sneaking through when the princess’ emotions boiled over.
Princess Diana’s image was frequently splashed over tabloids and almost a decade after her death it still often is, so for any actress, being the face of such an uncompromising personality was going to be a challenge.
Instead of looking at Watts and seeing Diana, you could sense Watts thinking about how to be British, how to walk and talk like a princess, then reminding herself to make it all seem natural.
And the representation of her colleague, Diana’s lover Dr Hasnat Khan, was equally unconvincing.
Short bursts of overly romantic soaps are tolerable but this was nearly two hours with little respite or comedic relief from all the fawning and gushing.
The film is based on a novel, Diana: Her Last Love, by Kate Snell, and the scenes heavily focused on were ones only Diana and Dr Khan would have access to.
With the film’s constant reminder of Dr Khan’s need for privacy, it was hard to believe and be moved by any of it.
Ultimately, it was impossible not to laugh off the “biography” as having allowed itself to slide sideways off the cinema screen with nowhere to go.
Starring: Naomi Watts (Adore), Naveen Andrews (Lost – TV series).
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel (Five Minutes of Heaven).
Screening: Reading Cinemas Queenstown.
One star (out of five)