News Column

Princess Diana Biopic Damned by Critics

Sept. 8, 2013

CRITICS have panned the new film about Diana, Princess of Wales after its glittering world premiere.

A review in The Times, which gave the film one star out of five, praised actress Naomi Watts for "doing her level best with a squirmingly embarrassing script" but added that "this film is still atrocious and intrusive".

Anglesey-raised Watts, who plays the title role of Diana in the film of the same name about the final years of the princess' life, got a warm reception at the premiere as she looked suitably regal in a floor-length white gown and diamonds while waving at fans.

But critics gave just about everything to do with the film a much colder reception.

The Times said the film "bumps up romance and trivia at the expense of some serious comment about the Royal Family's control of her access to her sons, who hardly feature, and Diana's disturbed behaviour".

Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw wrote "poor Princess Diana".

He said: "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."

The film, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, charts Diana's romance with Dr Hasnat Khan, which ended shortly before her death alongside Dodi Fayed in a Paris car crash in 1997.

The film company said they set out to make an "insightful and compassionate study of Diana's later years".

In his one-star review, Mirror critic David Edwards writes that it can "only be described as a fabulously awful film".

He said the much-loved Queen of Hearts "has been recast as a sad- sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid" while adding that the film is "a cheap and cheerless effort that looks like a Channel 5 midweek matinee".

Similarly, Christopher Tookey's one-star review in the Daily Mail brands the film as "terribly, terribly dull".

"The movie is not as tacky or sensationalist as one might fear," writes Tookey, but concludes "the bottom of the royal barrel has been scraped once too often".

The film's "many sudden shifts in mood" are frustrating, according to The Independent, which adds that it could have been stronger if it had not been "lumbered with the baggage that the real Diana brings and had simply told a fictional story about a love affair between a princess and an outsider. That, though, would have defeated the purpose."

It goes on: "However, Diana works well enough as a dark romantic drama and is far less exploitative than it might have been. Naomi Watts gives an intense and volatile performance as the princess.

"The problem, though, is that she doesn't really resemble the character she is playing, and the film shifts wildly in tone."

The Daily Express, however, counters the momentum, calling the film "a must-see this autumn [which] will leave the audience in tears".

Actress Watts controversially said before the film's release that she believes Princess Diana gave her "permission" from beyond the grave to play her in the new film about her love life.

"It felt like I was spending a lot of time with her. There was one particular moment when I felt her permission was granted.

"That won't sound right in print, I know," she said at the time.

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Source: Copyright Western Mail (Wales) 2013

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