A tepid telling of the Princess Diana tale

Movie: Diana; Cast: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Charles Edwards, Geraldine James, Juliet Stevenson, Cas Anvar; Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Rating: *1/2 stars

The story of the late Queen of Hearts and Princess of Wales, Diana, has been an open book and the expectation from this tale is colossal.

Unfortunately, Director Oliver Hirschbiegel's "Diana" inspired by British journalist, Kate Schnell's 2001 book, "Diana: Her Last Love," does not attempt to place her within any historical or political period. Instead, the film pans the dramatic last two years of Diana's life, portraying her as a lonely soul starved of love.

The film, dramatically bookended by scenes showing the buildup to Diana's fatal car crash in Paris Aug 31, 1997, is basically a shallow docudrama.

Initially the chronicle is gummed-up with various distorted snippets of Diana's life and then slowly and gradually settles on her affair with Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon who she meets by chance while visiting a friend in hospital.

The narration focuses on the on-off relationships of two contrasting personalities giving an insight into their affair, of how it blossoms from a casual meeting to a full blown relationship.

It shows Diana as a mortal woman desiring companionship and the efforts she puts in to make the relationship work. It also reveals her fears and pain.

But of all the stories that one has heard and read of Diana, this film safely detaches from reality and avoids the stories of her battle with bulimia, the self-harming, depression, her affairs with her butler James Hewitt, and England Rugby captain Will Carling.

The script itself acts as a ruthless stalker, uneasy with its own probing. It does little to convey either the perfection or imperfection of its subject. Unfortunately, it does not reveal anything about the enigmatic Diana, but manages instead to portray her as a tepidly manipulative and scheming woman, who fed the media with photographs taken with Dodi Fayed.

Thus, Stephen Jeffreys' screenplay seems unfocussed and fickle. The dialogues too are mediocre and sound dull and comical.

Naomi, in all fairness, has done her best to impersonate the larger-than-life Diana. In fact, she has perfected the coy smile and compassionate gaze, but definitely not hit the mark, where Diana is concerned. The performance is lacklustre.

Naveen as Dr. Hasnat Khan is a almost enough to repulse an audience, as the viewer would be left wondering how a princess could fall for someone with no iota of personality. He puffs, hogs and walks through his scenes. The intensity or the passion for the princess or for his work is missing.

Together, Naomi and Naveen struggle admirably, but appear stuttering puppets. The pair is devoid of real chemistry, even when sometimes charming. The mutual attraction is made somewhat plausible, and their love for each other is relatively convincing, even if the spark of attraction is not.

The camera work is tacky, and the shots placid. There seems to be no effort to render Naomi charming, and she falls quite flat as a representation of the woman once considered the most beautiful in the world.

Except for capturing the scenic beauty of Dover, the cinematographer has taken no trouble to capture any shots aesthetically.

Coming from director Oliver Hirschbiegel who received an Oscar nomination for "Downfall" that fabulous film about Hitler's final days in his Berlin bunker, "Diana" is a big disappointment.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils

On Now: Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils

IPL7, MATCH 8—Chennai bat. Hilfenhaus, Manhas, Ishwar in; Delhi unchanged. More »

Bowling worries for Super Kings

Bowling worries for Super Kings

After failing to defend a mammoth 205 against Kings XI Punjab, Chennai have a lot to think about. More »

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

The class act from Saurashtra may have to rethink his approach to the mannerless format. More »

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

The BCCI is likely to convene a special general body meeting (SGM) in May to replace N Srinivasan on the board's disciplinary committee. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Roach escapes injury after car crash

Roach escapes injury after car crash

The West Indies fast bowler lost control of his BMW sedan due to slippery road conditions in his native Barbados on Saturday. More »

Repose faith in Indian coaches

Repose faith in Indian coaches

All of them cost plenty of dollars which I feel is unnecessary for a two- month tournament, says former cricketer Yajurvindra Singh. More »

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

The former CBI Director is one of the three candidates proposed by the BCCI to head the enquiry into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal. More »

Cook relieved after period in limbo

Cook relieved after period in limbo

The England captain is looking forward to a fresh start after a dispiriting Ashes defeat last year. More »

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara go over their World T20 win, and feel grateful to have fans whose support remains unwavering in victory and de… More »

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

[T20 Newsline] Lacklustre Super Kings, fast-improving Sanju Samson and other news from IPL-7. More »

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Peter Anderson has started work in Kabul as the fast-developing team prepare for their debut at next year's World Cup. More »

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

As Lanka's head coach decides to jump ship, euphoria over winning an ICC tournament has dissipated into fuistration. More »

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Sri Lanka's chief selector is upset at news of head coach Paul Farbrace's possible move to England. More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »