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Byron Shire
December 9, 2021

Diana

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If remembering where you were when they died counts for anything, Princess Di is up there with Elvis and John Lennon in my book – not that her achievements can compare.

I didn’t ‘get’ the whole Diana thing, so it would be carping to suggest that being the glamorous figurehead for a decent cause is hardly epoch making. Familiar with the trailer, I feared that this must be a pretty crook movie if they couldn’t make a better preview, but to my astonishment I found that it is not totally hopeless.

The major problem – it is staring at you for the entire 113 minutes – is that Naomi Watts, apart from the blonde hair, does not bear any resemblance to the character.

Such a criticism might ordinarily be dismissed as piffling, but in Diana’s case her fame was built solely on her appearance.

Watts makes a valiant effort at the downcast, faux shy mannerisms, but facially she’s too different and, more importantly, she is too short. Diana was a tall woman – taller than Charles – and minus those extra inches Watts is little more than just another cute girl on the street.

As is now common practice, the story starts in Paris on the night that Diana and her Egyptian lover Dodi Fayed took that fatal car ride, then flashes back two years. Rushing to the hospital bed of a critically ill patient, Diana meets Dr Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews), a Pakistani heart surgeon. The pair hit it off, but true love never runs smooth, especially when you’ve got the world at your feet and are set up for life.

The dialogue is generally quite awful – the first speaking scene has a therapist telling Diana ‘you have so much love to give’ – but there are relevant if glib observations of how the cult of celebrity can impact in a negative way on the its object. Falling fractionally short of hagiography, we’re left wondering if Diana really was a hounded saint, or merely someone who paved the way for Kim Kardashian.

~ John Campbell

 


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