Though the cinema presumptuously placed two packets of tissues beside every seat in the theatre, Diana isn’t exactly the tear-jerking journey that many expected. In fact, it’s quite bland.
The Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed drama documents the last two years of Diana Princess of Wales’ life, including her struggle after her divorce from Prince Charles and her whirlwind new relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Diana and Khan’s relationship isn’t easy. Their lives together, while blissful at times, are constantly marred by the intrusion of the media and the conflict between Khan’s love and his profession as a cardiologist.
Sounds like all the necessary elements for a great romance story, right? Well yeah, if the story is handled well. Here, however, Hirschbiegel treats it with haste. Rather than taking time to build the relationship, the story races through it and expects us to believe that despite just being separated from Charles, Diana falls in love with Hasnat after one tour of his hospital and just one dinner. If only it were that easy. And because there’s no solid foundation for the relationship, the emotional intensity one would expect doesn’t strike the audience once the pair’s love starts to degenerate.
Both Naveen Andrews (Hasnat) and Naomi Watts (Diana) deliver nuanced performances for the most part, but the believability factor is significantly lessened by their onscreen relationship that comes across as forced. This said, however, there are a few moments of genuine chemistry between the two – notably when Diana takes Hasnat to the ‘edge of the kingdom’. But this, like other scenes, falls victim to Hirschbiegel lazily sidestepping a potentially poignant moment with a melodramatic montage.
Diana, while being an interesting story, wasn’t nearly as emotionally powerful as it could have been.
Diana is in cinemas now.