Even for a Princess Di biopic, ‘Diana’ is overly obsessed with death

Noami Watts' Princess Di snuggles with Naveen Andrews' Hasnat Khan in "Diana." Credit: eOnePublicity
Noami Watts’ Princess Di snuggles with Naveen Andrews’ Hasnat Khan in “Diana.”
Credit: eOnePublicity

‘Diana’
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Stars: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews
Rating: PG-13
2 (out of 5) Globes

We begin mere moments before the accident. The camera follows Lady Diana Spencer of Wales from behind, keeping a respectful distance in a long, sinister tracking shot while an ominous drone oozes from the soundtrack. A title card informs us that it is Aug. 31, 1997, but even if you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, it’s already glaringly obvious that Princess Di is about to die.

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s gloomy, doom-laden biopic soon flashes back to three years before that tragic evening in Paris, yet the mood never much improves. Separated from Charles and living in a gilded cage of vast luxury and absurd media scrutiny, Naomi Watts’ Diana is dwarfed by her opulent surroundings, shunned by her friends and unable to stop confessing morbid nightmares to her acupuncturist. Be forewarned: There are not a lot of scenes in this movie during which anybody is talking about any subject other than death.

A brief window of levity opens upon Diana’s chance meeting with Hasnat Khan, a suave Pakistani surgeon played by that old “English Patient” heartthrob Naveen Andrews. He drinks too much, gorges himself on fast food, chain-smokes and subjects her to football games on the telly. Instantly smitten, our regal royal subject is reduced to a giggling teenage girl. “He doesn’t treat me like a princess,” she smiles.

It’s almost fun for a little while, with all the skulking around in disguises and thinking they’ve fooled the palace guards. Watts and Andrews mount a heroic battle against playwright Stephen Jeffreys’ script, which alternates clunky exposition with sub-Harlequin romance dialogue and ever-present musings regarding the hereafter. These two lovers have a playful chemistry, but even the movie’s most romantic moment can’t help but end with Diana quoting her favorite passage about death from the Quran.

As Di’s divorce makes her the most famous woman in the world, the tabloids take their toll and it’s clear that Hirschbiegel is hell-bent on turning this all into an incredibly depressing remake of “Notting Hill.” He’s a bizarre choice for this material in the first place, having previously helmed “Downfall,” the three-hour Hitler-in-the-bunker movie that launched a million YouTube parodies.

Carrying on for a half hour or so after the central love story is over and done with, “Diana” devolves into a formless montage of threatening portents and sinister paparazzi shots. We get it. It’s sad. She died.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.