Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars
When I was in the movie theatre business I would always, on the last weekend of the summer, let the staff have an all-night “sleepover” at a theatre. They could vote on a film to watch, invite a friend and have one more party before school started. That night, while watching the Trey Parker/Matt Stone comedy “Orgazmo” (“South Park” was a staff favorite), one of the managers interrupted the movie to inform us that Diana, the Princess of Wales, had been killed in a car accident. It was August 31, 1997.
“Diana,” the film, begins on that same day, with the Princess of Wales (Watts) heading down a hotel hallway towards a waiting elevator. For some reason, she stops and looks behind her. Nothing. She gets into the elevator and soon is off into a waiting car. What happens next is known. What isn’t are the two years previous to this evening. And that is the story of “Diana.”
If I didn’t know John Hughes was dead I would have sworn he had written this film. We meet the Princess in her third year of separation from Prince Charles. She spends most of her time doing charity work, including visiting hospitals. On one such visit she casts her eyes on heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Andrews) and birds begin to sing. She gets such a look on her face that I’m surprised the director didn’t digitally put animated hearts over her eyes. Smitten she begins to find reasons to turn up at the hospital at all hours of the day, finally getting the nerve to speak with Dr. Khan. Thus begins a relationship that may or may not have happened. Honestly.
I’m afraid the deck was stacked against this film before one frame of film was shot. Princess Diana was such a HUGE personality that there is no way…no one…that could have played her without gaining a negative comparison. Watts tries hard and manages to capture some of Diana’s charm but still her performance never comes off as more than an impersonation. The story itself begs for you to relax your believe in reason. In order to meet up with Khan, Diana often sneaks out of her home at night, wandering the streets and catching nobody’s attention. She often dons a dark wig, which makes her look exactly like Nicole Kidman. Seriously. As time passes the two fight, make up and try to deal with life in a fishbowl.
Of course, as we know, things may or may not have gone well between the Princess and her Doctor. Not all fairy tales come true.