Brits say "No!" to excessively emotional and fictional depiction of Diana's last two years of life
Within hours of the dazzling world premiere of Diana in central London last night, a tirade of ruthless and cynical reviews flooded Britain’s press, which certainly put a dampener on the celebratory mood.
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and starring Naomi Watts, the film attempted to portray the last two years of Princess Diana’s life before her untimely death in Paris by car crash, along with Dodi el Fayed in 1997.
The Mirror's film critic, David Edwards, referred to the film as "a cheap and cheerless effort that looks like a Channel 5 mid-week matinee." He wrote that "the Queen of Hearts has been recast as a sad-sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid."
Christopher Tookey from the Daily Mail awards the film a lowly one out of five stars, saying that although it was “not as tacky or sensationalist as one might fear…the bottom of the royal barrel has been scraped once too often."
He described it as being "terribly, terribly dull."
Another stinging review came from the The Times, who also branded it a one star picture. Although commending Watts for “'doing her level best with a squirmingly embarrassing script,' critic Kate Muir accused the film of being “atrocious and intrusive.”
Geoffrey McNab, from the Independent noted Watts’ "intense and volatile performance", giving the film three stars. However he also added that "what makes it frustrating as a film though, are its many sudden shifts in mood."
The only positive review that has appeared in the press since the fateful premiere last night, comes from the Daily Express, who deemed it a “must see this autumn,” assuring that viewers would be brought to “tears.”
The storyline itself is an emotional depiction of her two year romantic relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (played by Lost’s Naveen Andrews) which ended not long before her’s and Fayed’s death. Her relationship with Fayed is portrayed as nothing more than a rebound from from the surgeon and there is very little reference to her children throughout the whole production.
Khan himself has responded negatively to the film, saying it was “completely wrong.” Khan has never publicly talked about his relationship with Diana, which means that most of the scenes between them will be fiction.
“It is based on gossip and Diana's friends talking about a relationship that they didn't know much about” he remarks, dismissing the film. “This includes some of my relatives who didn't know much about it either. It is all based on hypotheses and gossip” he concludes. Khan says that he has no intention of watching it.
Both the director and main star have already begun to defend themselves over the production.
Hirschbiegel told Sky News: "The film is actually based on the accounts of several people and the inquest in which there were hundreds of pages discussing their relationship.”
He continues: "It is not a documentary, but a dramatic interpretation. In a love story you have to create four or five dramatic scenes that make it work."
Watts also defended the picture. “We tried to honour the depiction of her character in the best possible way and be respectful” the movie star told the BBC.
When asked about how her two sons would feel about the film, Watts responded “hopefully, if they get to see the film, if they are interested enough, they will feel that we’ve done it in a respectful and sensitive way.”
The Guardian’s critic Peter Bradshaw, who also gave the film one out of five stars, lamented for “poor Princess Diana.”
He wrote: “I hesitate to use the term 'car crash cinema'. But the awful truth is that, 16 years after that terrible day in 1997, she has died another awful death.
“This is due to an excruciatingly well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental biopic about her troubled final years, laced with bizarre cardboard dialogue – a tabloid fantasy of how famous and important people speak in private.”
Now we all know that critics have the tendency to be a little bit sharp – I suppose it comes with the territory – but the point is, whether done well or not, making a film about the troubled years that led up to the brutal death of this much beloved Royal only sixteen years after it happened, while her equally if not more beloved children are still young themselves, is perhaps just a little too soon for most Brits.
Maybe not the best call, Hollywood.