Lady Di biopic is a blast from the past

HER LOVE STORY: Diana stars Naomi Watts as the titular Princess of Wales and Naveen Andrews as her lover, Hasnat Khan. Watts does as well as she can, but the often-flat direction of the film leaves much to be desired.


    Nov 29, 2013

    Lady Di biopic is a blast from the past

    DIANA (PG13)

    Drama-biography/113 minutes

    Rating: 2.5/5

    IN REAL life, she was the People's Princess, Diana, Queen of Hearts, who won over millions the world over with her genuinity and kindness.

    On celluloid, however, this film about Lady Diana Spencer, better known as Diana, Princess of Wales, paints the woman mostly as insecure, desperate and aimless.

    It's a pity.

    Based on novelist Kate Snell's 2000 book, Diana: Her Last Love, the film is centred on the last two years of Diana's life, post-divorce from Prince Charles and leading up to her tragic and untimely death in August 1997.

    But don't expect a huge focus on her as a mother or humanitarian - although the movie has, thankfully, included some of those aspects of her life.

    No, proceedings centre on her relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, whom she dated for several years before she started seeing Harrods heir Dodi Fayed, her boyfriend at the time of that fatal Paris car crash.

    Now, the blurred lines - between truth and a highly fictionalised version of it - is my main beef with this movie, which was helmed by little-known German director Oliver Hirschbiegel.

    Who's to say what really went on in the private moments between Lady Di, played by Naomi Watts (2011's J. Edgar), and Khan (Lost's Naveen Andrews)?

    Sure, their love story makes for great tabloid fodder, but let's not forget that this was a real-life person, not just a character we're talking about, people.

    To her credit, Watts (who, at 45, is almost a decade older than Diana was when she died and, unfortunately, looks it) does as well as she can, even with the contrived script and often flat direction that often reminds one of that of a B-grade made-for-TV movie.

    Her transformation into the iconic Princess - from the coiffed blonde 'do to the various gowns she dons for public appearances - is competent, although caricature-ish, and successfully takes one back to the actual real-life occasions.

    For instance, in a scene recreating her well-documented 1997 trip to Angola to visit landmine victims, Di - decked out in protective gear - crosses a minefield.

    It's a blast from the past (pun totally unintended).

    As far as her personal life is concerned, there's nothing particularly compelling about the way her relationship with Khan is depicted.

    The latter, by the way, who still works as a surgeon in London and who has mostly kept mum about the coupling, has panned the film, which is saying something.

    Not a complete royal failure, overall, but pretty darn close.