Friday, November 1, 2013

Diana Movie Review

Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews (r) in Diana

Queen of Hearts and Mr. Wonderful Sitting in a Tree
by Natalie Lylo (new critic)

Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana does not whisk audiences back to the nineties in a touching and realistic portrayal of the princess’s final years. It does not expose a timeless and tragic, Romeo and Juliet-esque romance. It does not inspire nostalgia or garner heartbreaking sentiment toward the title character and her lover. Surely, this was Hirschbiegel’s goal; but he certainly does not succeed.

Instead, Diana teeters on the brink of achieving the impossible. It crafts an almost unlikable Princess Diana (Naomi Watts.) If this film makes one of the most beloved historical figures of all-time appear aggravating, one can only imagine what it does to her lover. Hasnat Khan (Lost’s Naveen Andrews) is awkward, stiff, robotic and unconvincing. Diana is unlikable. Hasnat is unlikable. Truly, they don’t even seem to like each other.

Diana traces the unlikely romance between this princess and doctor over two years, and across several countries. It opens on D-Day (so to speak) and quickly flashes back two years to Diana at her breaking point, after the dissolution of her marriage. She is left brokenhearted by a cheating Prince Charles and the harshness of the media; but soon finds herself in the hands of a heart surgeon. Fancy that.

Their relationship launches into a sickening and highly melodramatic roller coaster ride. One moment Diana wears a wig, eats hamburgers, listens to jazz and travels abroad for Hasnat. The next moment, they fight hysterically—often in the rain, to top it off.

The few relatively shining moments of the film occur when Diana is in complete isolation. We see her in an opulent opera house, completely alone. She is on a run, surrounded by miles of green. She is often alone in her palace, staring into a mirror. These solitary scenes hint at the tortured Diana, we long to understand.

But, this glimmer of substance is quickly overshadowed by a load of romantic comedy clich├ęs. Sadly, they are not funny or convincingly romantic. Diana appears to regress throughout the affair as she becomes increasingly childlike and frankly, annoying. She takes Hasnat to a place in London she dramatically deems the “end of the kingdom,” and precedes to throw critters down his shirt, before racing him back to their car. It's like watching a high school (or even middle school) “romance” unfold.

All the while, Hasnat finds himself trapped within the quintessential melodramatic question—can you truly have it all? Can you have both romance and a career? This is the kind of crisis you find at the center of a soap opera. His over-the-top, inconsistent lines like “There is no future here!” followed by, “I can’t live without you!” follow this operatic suit.

If there were a checklist of cheesiness, Diana would fill each box. There are cringe-worthy love lines, slow motion panning of the lovers in bed, and soundtrack music at all the predictable places. Each scene flashes in, and fades out before anything is fully developed. It approaches something real, then quickly shies away and transports us to a different country or time. So we are left with nothing—or as the film would say, “rubbish.”

Grade: D-