Thursday, 21 November 2013

Diana the Movie ... The worst film of the Year ? (Watch the Video)

Diana reviews 'devastating', says director
Oliver Hirschbiegel upset by British critics' reaction to royal biopic, but blames the country's ongoing 'trauma' over princess’s death
Ben Child

The director of royal biopic Diana has revealed his "devastation" after the film picked up derisive reviews, but blamed Britain's ongoing "trauma" with the late princess of Wales' death for the poor reaction to his film.

German film-maker Oliver Hirschbiegel, previously best known for the acclaimed historical drama Downfall about the last days of Hitler, nevertheless told the BBC he had "no regrets" about making the film. Diana's mauling was "devastating, but when you make a film you don't think about the reactions", he said, adding that he hoped people would make their own minds up about the movie rather than avoid it due to the widespread negative reviews.

"In all the other places where it's opened - in Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Slovakia - it's been very strong," said Hirschbiegel. "I think for the British, Diana is still a trauma they haven't come to terms with."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw labelled Hirschbiegel's film "an excruciatingly well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental biopic about her troubled final years, laced with bizarre cardboard dialogue", while the Observer's Mark Kermode called it "a film which has neither backbone nor teeth, swerving drearily between hagiography ('I just want to help people!') and hapless cod romance, interspersed with hokey landmine photo-ops and scenic cultural detours through Lahore".

The Telegraph, meanwhile, said the film was "a special class of awful" while The Mirror labelled it "cheap and cheerless". The Hollywood Reporter described the UK reaction as "some of the worst reviews for a British film in recent memory".

Diana stars Naomi Watts as the princess, with Lost's Naveen Andrews as her heart surgeon lover Dr Hasnat Khan. It opened in fifth place at the UK box office last weekend with £623,000 and this week dropped to No 9. Nevertheless, producers have sold the movie to distributors in more than 40 countries around the world and it is due to open in the US on 1 November.

Hirschbiegel also defended the film at the Zurich film festival earlier this week. He described Diana as "very un-British" and said the critical reaction "harked back "to what newspapers like the Daily Mail would write about her back then - really vile things. So I guess I succeeded."

“If the movie had set out with the intention of cruel mockery of its subjects, it would be a triumph.”

Diana, review: 'A special class of awful'
Diana, the new film about Diana, Princess of Wales, is terrible in every single way says Tim Robey

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel. Starring: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Charles Edwards, Juliet Stevenson, Geraldine James; 12A cert, 113 min
“If the movie had set out with the intention of cruel mockery of its subjects, it would be a triumph.”

Whatever our apprehensions for a biopic about Diana, Princess of Wales, I doubt anyone expected it to turn her into a slightly more entitled Bridget Jones. The entire idea must be upsetting for her sons and those who care about her. But for the rest of us Oliver Hirschbiegel’s movie is a special class of awful - too frivolous for offence, too epically miscalculated to add to our understanding. On the plus side, it’s hysterical.
The span of what little drama we get is the two years prior to Diana’s death, principally encompassing Diana’s affair with Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon she met by chance while visiting a friend in hospital. Their series of dates is jolly enough – we begin with a wackily intrusive surgery tour, graduate to dodgy home cooking at Kensington Palace (“pretty hot stuff!”, he says of her efforts) and wind up, with a curious air of tacky inevitability, at Chicken Cottage.
Faced with conspicuously poor dialogue in the average script, most directors and actors might seek to disguise the shoddiness of what they’ve been given. Here the cast do the opposite: they milk every unintentional laugh in Stephen Jeffreys’ screenplay – and there are dozens – as if heaven-sent.
Take the line, “If you can’t smell the fragrance, don’t come in to the garden of love” – a quotation from the 13th century Persian poet Rumi, given to Khan (Naveen Andrews) to whisper to her in bed. It’s said with nary a splutter, not a hint of irony. If the movie had set out with the intention of cruel mockery of its subjects, it would be a triumph.

Naomi Watts, in fairness, is too hard-working an actress to botch her impersonation of Diana totally. What we get is the kind of bad performance that takes talent. It’s less a portrait of the Princess than a hokey send-up – close to a Jennifer Saunders skit, with every tic telegraphed, and head set to permanent tilt. When we see Diana rehearsing what she’s going to say on the legendary 1995 Martin Bashir interview – her line about there being “three people in this marriage” – it has an air of coy calculation that might seem apt for the moment, if it weren’t the constant, giddy top-note of this whole persona.
Andrews has the unenviable task of seeming charmed and smitten by this pixie madwoman, when most rational men in his position would swiftly contemplate a restraining order. For the rest of us, she’s close to a hoot – a hot mess whose comic potential, whether trying out brunette wigs to fool the omnipresent paparazzi, or adopting a crazed Liverpudlian accent to get past hotel minions, is seemingly limitless. It’s a fairly appalling testament to the movie that you don’t come away mourning any aspect of the real Princess of Wales. Whoever this one is, her demise is just flatly dismaying.

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