Friday 20 September 2013

"Diana" (The Scotsman 20/09/13)

Diana (12A) *
Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge

Oh dear. The People’s Biopic presumably intended to conjure some Downton-ish opulence, but it’s mired in terminally bland and credulous territory, almost a prequel to that risible Wills-and-Kate TV movie. The misguided startpoint is to reframe Di (Watts, helpless) as a posher Bridget Jones: a bit dizzy – and clueless in the kitchen – but sensitive and yearning, qualities she would take into her covert 1995 fling with Hasnat Khan (Andrews), a worldly heart surgeon straight out of Mills & Boon. Their mutual love of giggling and jazz enables Henri Paul to emerge from the film as quasi-heroic.

The morbid weirdness dissipates early, after which we’re confronted with the year’s direst script, forever prioritising gabbled incident – tiffs with “Buck House”! Landmines! Dodi! – over genuine insight. Banal framing kills off its every simpering or ripe line of dialogue: Khan’s post-coital warning “If you can’t stand the fragrance, don’t go into the garden of love” comes one minute after he’s treated Di to her first Chicken Cottage supper. In a year, enterprising drag acts will be hosting quote-along screenings everywhere. For now, it needs leaving well alone – or do you want a Fergie movie on your conscience?

Diana is in cinemas nationwide.

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