Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Platitude in Pearls

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Platitude in Pearls

Article excerpt

Diana 12A, Nationwide Someone who knows their Dianaology will have to fill me in - did this actually happen?

The late Princess Di is walking through central Portofino in Italy. She's being jostled on all sides by an insistent public and an even more insistent swarm of photographers, when, suddenly, the crowds part. There, huddled by his family, is a thin blind man. She reaches out to him and he reaches back, taking her hands. Then he presses at her face as though it's Braille; trying, as movie blindpeople are wont to do, to read her soul. Sunlight streams down from the heavens.

We never see the man's sight restored - perhaps that's for the spin-off, Eyes Wide Open: The Diana Miracles - but we get the point. The Diana of Oliver Hirschbiegel's Diana is the Messiah as shot by Mario Testino. We're meant to sit there in wonder, but we just wonder how anyone ever thought this was a good idea.

Presumably, Naomi Watts once did, which is why she gamely wore a bouffant wig and a prosthetic nose to play the title role, although she might be regretting the effort now. This is a film so inept that, even with its messianic overtones, it cannot be counted as a hagiography. A hagiography idealises its subject, whereas Diana accidently denigrates its. A typical scene has Diana waking up a friend at 3:30 in the morning and wailing, 'I'll never be happy again!' Except she is, the very next day, when she makes up with her Pakistani heart surgeon boyfriend Hasnat Khan. Forget the People's Princess - this is one annoying drama queen.

That's mostly what the film is about:

the difficult course of her relationship with Khan in the last two years of her life. And, in the process of exploring this, it devolves into a series of cliches on the theme of heartache. Our heroine mopes around on her sofa, watching daytime teevee. She runs away from her lover with a cry of 'Don't follow me!' and doesn't stop as her shoes fall off. And although she's spared from crying into a tub of strawberry cheesecake HaagenDazs, she does cry over her official correspondence. Rather than making the former Princess of Wales human, Diana makes her a platitude in pearls.

But far better that she's doing her subBridget Jones routine than trudging through this film's love scenes. …

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