Early Reviews for ‘Diana’ from the UK are Not Flattering

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Naomi Watts as Princess Diana in Diana
Naomi Watts as Princess Diana in Diana
Photo: Ecosse Films

This morning we got the first teaser trailer for Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman, but a week ago another princess had her debut as Diana starring Naomi Watts and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) had its premiere in London and the reviews were not kind.

Like Grace, Diana has so far avoided the fall film festival circuit, deciding to have a gala screening at the Zurich Film Festival, which runs from September 26 – October 6, instead of play the Telluride, Toronto or Venice Film Festivals. If the early reviews are any indication it’s quite obvious why.

Over at The Daily Mirror, David Edwards called the film “fabulously awful” and “cheap and cheerless”, casting Princess Di “as a sad-sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid.” And, though I don’t really get the comparison or the choice of actors, he says of Naomi Watts‘s performance, “Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would be more convincing.”

Over at The Times of London, Kate Muir says Watts does her best “with a squirmingly embarrassing script, this film is still atrocious and intrusive.”

Stephen Dalton at The Hollywood Reporter wasn’t any more kind writing in his review:

Bookended by tastefully discreet scenes depicting the buildup to Diana’s fatal car crash in Paris in August 1997, Hirschbiegel’s deluxe docudrama is essentially a globe-trotting escapist romance, visually rich but psychologically shallow. It also takes the lazy option of portraying the Queen of Hearts as a lonely, love-starved, fairy-tale princess — albeit with a cynical grasp of her power as a media brand. Its biggest flaw is shockingly bad dialogue that will sound comically tin-eared to most native English speakers. But the filmmakers may yet have the last laugh as Diana’s enduring global popularity could tap a potentially huge audience immune to critical sneers.

Finally, over at The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw opens his review thusly:

Poor Princess Diana. 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. This is due to an excruciatingly well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental biopic about her troubled final years, laced with bizarre cardboard dialogue — a tabloid fantasy of how famous and important people speak in private.

Diana is set to start playing U.S. theaters on November 1, but it seems any Oscar chances this film may have had are already flying out the window. Much of my week will be spent adjusting my Oscar prediction charts and while I already had Watts out of the top five, she’s going to be moving further down the chart after this.