Diana film starring Naomi Watts 'car crash cinema'
Watts does her best in 'horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey with S&M replaced by charity work'
THE Princess of Wales might have captured the nation's hearts but Oliver Hirschbiegel's long-awaited biopic about Diana has failed to win any love from the critics.
Diana, which premiered last night in Leicester Square, follows the last two years of the princess's life, focusing on her romance with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, played by Lost's Naveen Andrews.
It had high credentials: Diana is played by Naomi Watts, previously nominated for two Oscars, while the German director Hirschbiegel is known for the much-admired Downfall about Hitler's last days in his bunker.
But today's reviews do not make happy reading for the filmmakers.
"Poor Princess Diana," says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. "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."
Bradshaw, who gave the film just one star, says it is "not so much Mills & Boon as a horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey with the S&M sex taken out – and replaced with paparazzi intrusion and misunderstood charity work".
Watts has the "upward look, the doe-eyed gaze of seduction and reproach" and she can pull off the "estuary-posh voice", says Bradshaw, but overall "she looks like she's in a two-hour Spitting Image sketch scripted by Jeffrey Archer".
The Daily Mirror's David Edwards was also unimpressed. "Despite a peroxide hair-job, she looks, sounds and acts nothing like the Princess of Wales," he says. "Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would be more convincing."
Princess Di has been recast as "a sad-sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid", he adds. The film's "cheap and cheerless effort" looks like a "Channel 5 mid-week matinee".
Other critics insist it is not Watts at fault, but the dialogue.
Watts does her level best with "a squirmingly embarrassing script", says Kate Muir in The Times, while Hirschbiegel shows "no signs of a cinematic heart beating in his portrayal of the self-anointed Queen of Hearts, and rarely goes beyond made-for-television territory".
Much of the dialogue involves characters telling each other things they already know, says David Gritten in the Daily Telegraph. "'I am a heart surgeon!' declares heart surgeon Khan. On another occasion: ‘You're the most famous woman in the world.' Yes, we get it," he says.
"Ultimately, what's the point of Diana?" asks Gritten. "It's hardly fascinating. It doesn't offer new facts about the Princess's life. And it certainly doesn't explain her complexity or contradictions. That would take a different, better film altogether." ·