Though Princess Diana may still be the beloved by many, the new film Diana is being dragged through the gutter by British critics following last night's premiere ahead of its September 20 release in the U.K.
To be honest, we didn't have high hopes for the film. Trailers for the movie, which stars Naomi Watts in the title role, have had a distinct Lifetime-y vibe, and the film didn't have a U.S. release date until late last month. Now Oliver Hirschbiegel's take on Diana's relationship with surgeon Hasnat Khan will show up on our side of the pond on November 1, but Diana's Oscar hopes may need some reigning in following the thrashing British critics have given it. How bad? We're glad you asked.
Give me the best zingers, please.
Well, right off the bat The Times' Kate Muir called the script "squirmingly embarrassing" and the film "atrocious and intrusive." David Edwards at The Mirror was also eager to get in some good jabs at Watts. "Despite a peroxide hair-job, she looks, sounds and acts nothing like the Princess of Wales," he writes. "Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would be more convincing." Yikes. Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian flirts with the tasteless: "I hesitate to use the term 'car crash cinema.' But the awful truth is that, 16 years after that terrible day in 1997, she has died another awful death." Bradshaw doesn't stop there. "Is this film an MI5 plot to blacken Diana's name and make her look plastic and absurd?" he writes. "The movie isn't so much Mills & Boon as a horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey with the S&M sex taken out – and replaced with paparazzi intrusion and misunderstood charity work."
OK, so what exactly in the movie makes it so bad?
Most of critics are rolling their eyes at the the film's tin-eared dialogue. Muir's review notes that "there are a number of lines you never, ever want to hear Diana, Princess of Wales say, and they include: 'I love feeling your hand there', and 'Yes, I’ve been a mad bitch'." Emma Dibdin of Digital Spy concurs. "It's the dialog that strikes you first – whereas it takes a while for the realization of just how bad the film is as a whole to sink in, you know the words are off from the start," she writes. "People speak to one another in big themes and unfiltered personal statements; every conversation is exposition."
Ouch. Any chance that this movie could be so-bad-it's-good?
Unfortunately, no. It's actually just pretty boring. "It’s hardly fascinating," David Gritten at The Telegraph notes. "It doesn’t offer new facts about the Princess’s life. And it certainly doesn’t explain her complexity or contradictions. That would take a different, better film altogether." Chris Tookey at the Daily Mail calls the film "slow and terribly, terribly dull."
So, does anyone like this movie?
Well, according to Martin Robinson at the Daily Mail, "the majority of the British press, aside from the Daily Express who called it a 'must see', branded her film a disaster." Meanwhile, Geoffrey McNab at The Independent's faint praise stands out: "Diana works well enough as a dark romantic drama and is far less exploitative than it might have been."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.