The movie Diana directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel is an enigma to me. Maybe it reflects the chaos of a life less ordinary led by someone portrayed as the world’s most beautiful woman. There has always been a sense of mystery around the Royals as we mere mortals try to decide how they think, live and express the emotions of life that we battle with each day. With the life of Diana the mystery turned into conspiracy as those who loved her tried to bring sense to the senseless in her passing.
The movie written by Stephen Jeffreys is based on a book by Kate Snell that takes possibly a less known and more controversial view of Diana’s private love life from the point where she is living apart from Charles. It picks up a romance with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan played by a favourite actor of mine, Naveen Andrews. The movie infers a two year long relationship that wouldn’t break and downplays the connection with Dodi Fayed, son of Harrod’s store owner Mohammed Al-Fayed. For many of the public this will be a disconnect with what they thought they knew of the Princess search for romantic recovery.
For the movies sake, irrespective of the actual love interest, the story does an excellent job of taking us inside the mind of Diana in the last two years of her life. It doesn’t deal head-on with the relationships with the Royal family, treating them more as the wallpaper to the story. The focus is on a woman who had the world at her feet and then felt it being pulled away. There are moments of elation and midnight hours of despair. You feel her determination, sometimes seen as manipulation and at the same time a desperate cry for help. A telling moment beautifully portrayed by Naomi Watts is when she conducts a public event, walks the barriers to say hello, shake hands and greet the children and then is taken away in her car. In a moment, the public persona of constant smiley bliss bleeds back to a tired tormented ache. Arriving back at Kensington Palace the servants are dismissed so Diana can be alone don a tracksuit and cook some baked beans.
For this reason seeing Diana is worth the insight. We find a Princess left along in Kensington Palace, sneaking out for clandestine meetings, clubbing and sneaking lovers past security in the back seat of her car. While Naomi Watts does a superb job in the acting it is always hard to embody such an iconic historic figure and hair styles and dresses aren’t the only pieces of the puzzle. Seeing the movie made me realise that our eyes more than an other aspect of our make-up are a defining part of our character and the eyes of Diana were still missing.
Overall this kind of story will sometimes struggle between drama and documentary and at times it gets bogged down producing a slow, even tedious production. We are familiar with the phrase “like watching a slow moving train wreck” and for Diana this was of a similar vein. You know how the story ends with the tragedy of a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris and yet although you know you are watching a ‘slow moving car crash’ you can’t look away. Despite the evidence of history Naomi Watts ensures you continue to feel the pain with a hope that the movie can right some wrong. It doesn’t!
Rating: M Offensive language.