Naomi Watts is Princess Diana in Diana and the movie follows the final few years of her life. The Oliver Hirschbiegel film pulls back the curtain on the private life of the woman, who at the time of her death in a Paris tunnel, was the most famous person in the world.
The most fascinating aspect of the movie is it is not so much a biopic of “The People’s Princess,” her altruistic efforts, her divorce from Prince Charles or even her role as mother to Prince William and Prince Harry. Diana is a -- ultimately tragic -- love story.
We meet Diana in that iconic elevator footage from the Paris hotel where she would spend her last evening. It is quiet, and she is poised as a princess should be, but something is off. She is with Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar) and as the elevator doors open… it fades to black and picks up several years prior.
Diana has recently split from Charles and the palace is doing their best to make her life miserable. They are preventing her from seeing her sons and she is completely alone, except for her assistants and servants. It is clear this is a woman who has much love to give, and no one to give it to.
Visiting a friend in a London hospital, she meets esteemed heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews). They immediately hit it off and Hirschbiegel does a fantastic job of showcasing their budding romance and the difficulty that is central to someone dating a princess living in a media circus. The helmer expertly manages the courtship and both Andrews and Watts could not be better cast. Watching the two of them, the viewer cannot help but pull for these star-crossed lovebirds. Is it even possible that the Pakistani-born doctor could end up happily ever after with the Princess?
The large appeal of the film is teased in the Diana trailer. What was her life like in those final years? What is interesting, and Movie Fanatic is not so sure it is the wisest of choices, is screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys and book author Kate Snell seem to show that Diana encouraged the paparazzi that swarmed her and ultimately led to her death. Why? Well, out of jealousy over how Khan could not handle dating the world’s most famous person and photos of her with Fayed would do nothing but make him jealous and bring him back to her.
Our Diana review finds that it suffers from a not-so-great pacing that makes it feel longer than it is. It too is somewhat lost in the middle act, almost not sure about which direction to take on this life that is so epic.
It’s not the most flattering of portrayals, but then again, perhaps it is in that it shows why we loved her so much. She’s human and experiences the same emotional pratfalls as all of us. Sometimes we make choices that ultimately hurt us in the worst ways, all out of something that emerges from the heart. And who can’t identify with thinking with our heart over our head?