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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, May 05, 2014

Movie Review - Diana

Diana (2013)
Starring Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
***This film is streaming on Netflix***

Everyone in America (and presumably around the world) is well aware of Princess Diana's relationship with Dodi Fayed, heir to the billionaire owner of Harrod's department store in London.  It was during this relationship when Diana's untimely death occurred in a car accident in Paris.  While Oliver Hirschbiegel's film is bookended with Diana's time with Fayed, the movie focuses on a relationship that is seemingly unknown to many Americans -- Diana's years-long coupling with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.  According to the film, Khan was the love of Diana's life and it was partly thanks to the media and tabloid frenzy surrounding Diana that this relationship was called off in the first place.

Hirschbiegel's film is admittedly a soap opera with nearly two-thirds of its runtime devoted to Diana (played by Naomi Watts) acting like a schoolgirl who has fallen for her first crush.  Still, despite the pettiness of the plot, there's part of me that enjoyed the fact that the film went in this direction.  Diana was quite possibly the most famous figure in the world and the movie tries to give us a more intimate portrait of a woman who was simply a woman and not some figure placed on a pedestal.  While the flick could've certainly used a little more focus and some significant trimmings, I didn't dislike it nearly as much as the critics who seemed to take great glory in trouncing this upon its release.

Granted, I don't know a whole lot about Diana, her mannerisms, or her way of talking, but I think Watts does an admirable job bringing the Princess to life and trying to humanize her a bit more than the tabloid culture allowed.  It's not Watts' fault that the film paints Diana in a lovelorn and lovesick light, but Watts certainly succeeds at giving us glimpses of the Princess as a woman who recognizes the power her status carries while also longing for some moments of normalcy.  It's her relationship with Hasnat Khan (Lost's Naveen Andrews) that centers her, allowing her to feel "normal" thanks to the fact that Khan doesn't treat her as royalty -- a characteristic which Diana finds utterly attractive.

I'm sure there is a better film to be made about Princess Diana, but Diana isn't a bad starting point for a cinematic look at the Princess that England swooned over in the 1980s and 90s.  Diana is a figure that is so highly regarded that no one will ever be pleased with her portrayal on the silver screen should anyone dare to make another film about her.  However, this rather intimate look at a very specific time in her life is acceptable enough.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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