Instead it’s simply a numbing, saccharine, tedious film that tries too hard to be reverential to its central character and eventually comes across as mawkish kitsch.
Directed by Oliver Hirshbiegel who made the excellent Das experiment 12 years ago and the even more interesting Downfall (the film that contained the famous Hitler YouTube meme), Diana plays out like a clumsy paparazzi following a celebrity behind closed doors, and then concocting some sort of long-drawn story that uses 10 per cent of the actual facts and 90 per cent sensationalist hogwash to grab eyeballs. A melodramatic story can still work out into a decent film, however Diana is a series of tacky scenes with enough cornball acting from the supporting characters to qualify for a rejected made for television after school special.
The film chronicles the last two years of Diana’s life post her split with Prince Charles, and sheds a dim spotlight on her relationships with a heart surgeon and an Egyptian millionaire who died with her in a car crash. Diana had a troubled marriage and a depressing life in her final years and one would expect her biopic to reveal the truth behind her downfall. The film contains nothing that you wouldn’t find on her Wikipedia page, and it’s a little bizarre to watch seeing as director Hirschbiegel brilliantly captured the last days of Hitler in Downfall.
Naomi Watts is terrific in the title role and it’s a testament to her talent that she can pull off a convincing performance despite being given a truly terribly written character with impossibly bad lines. Like Meryl Streep in last year’s Margaret Thatcher biopic, Watts stands as the lone bright spark in an ultimately dull film, trying to salvage some complexity in a hollow on screen character. The film oils in a bookend style segment that shows a pensive Diana leaving her hotel room on the night that she died it’s intriguing to delve into Diana’s mind in the final moments of her life, sadly even Watts’ expressive eyes and impeccable accent and makeup cannot travail beyond the surface level.