2013, PG-13, 113 min. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. Starring Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Charles Edwards, Daniel Pirrie, Cas Anvar.
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Nov. 22, 2013
This film continues and actually accelerates the simplification and beatification of Diana, Princess of Wales (Watts), if that is still possible. This is the story of Diana’s great secret love affair with Dr. Hasnat Khan (Andrews) – who came after Charles and before Dodi Fayed (Anvar), portrayed here as mostly a partner of convenience.
Khan is a Pakistani heart surgeon who is in training at a British hospital when Diana falls for him at first sight. The early part of the film, as they establish their relationship, is charming and actually sweet. Chance meetings lead to flirtatious glances, which eventually evolve into clandestine meetings. Diana smuggling Khan into her palace and disguising herself to go out with him is romantic and humorous.
Soon enough, however, the film becomes overly coy and almost shockingly myopic as it concentrates on this romance. Boasting a large budget, with scenes set all around the world detailing Diana’s travels, charities, and causes, the film is still really telling a very small story. Yes, Diana is the poor little rich girl, but the opulent settings, private jets, yachts, and chauffeured cars prove peculiar and distracting affectations.
Despite the cluttered, overlong film, Watts does an admirable job carrying the film, even though she is done in by the flatness of her character. Andrews smolders while experiencing pressure from all sides despite his professed great love and smoking endless numbers of cigarettes. Ultimately, it is as though this is a Disney film – The Princess and the Doctor – not a real life biopic.