Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sensuality and smoking. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: November 1, 2013 Released by: Eone Film
This fictionalized limited biopic is superficially functional but never really seems to authenticate the experience of "The People's Princess."
Diana stars Naomi Watts (The Impossible) in the title role and Naveen Andrews and comes across as a kind of treacly, corny romantic fantasy more suited to the small-screen.
A potentially compelling portrait is set during the last two years of Princess Diana's life having been separated from Prince Charles for three years.
A solitary existence in Kensington Palace with its share of tears and toast with beans turns on her meeting with Pakistani chain-smoking heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Andrews of The Brave One and further back The English Patient).
Stephen Jeffreys slipshod, occasionally emotive script details their relationship as a private Hasnat doesn't put Diana on a pedestal but becomes gradually dismayed by a meddlesome media.
The too often unwieldy helming by Oliver Hirschbiegel (who did such a remarkable job with Adolf Hitler's last two weeks in a complex, provocative Downfall) can't avoid eschewing the cheesy cliches invited by the storytelling. It leaves a possible involving union in a precarious, mawkish position as many of the primary distaff audience will admire the make-up and hair work for a somewhat sullen downplaying, but underwhelming Watts who may have been more preoccupied with the character's visage and physicality more than the blind implications of the role.
It doesn't help Andrews can't do much with a character that seems too unemotional and few sparks if any occur between Hasnat and Diana, the most famous woman at the time who seemed to have her way with the press. The crucial interludes may not be fact oriented so the payoff is broadly reductive.
In a scenario which could be looked at as a game more background comes by way of Cas Anvar's Dodi Fayed who essentially is a dupe. Less advantageous but more suitable around long languorous lyrical, philosophical passages includes the interplay of Juliet Stevenson and Geraldine James with Watts. Nevertheless, the flourishes from a life cut way too short and rather disquieting doesn't really offer much to a fervent, sensitive soul. As flawed as the concurrent cinematic greeting card About Time may be when it comes temporal maneuverings at least it's less difficult and digressing than this intimate melodrama.