'Squirmingly embarassing, luridly sensational and a creepy weepie' - Diana film starring Naomi Watts savaged by the critics

Read a reviews round-up

Portraying the “People’s Princess” was never going to be an easy job. And Naomi Watts, star of Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana, recently remarked that she was planning to leave the country when the critical response comes out.

Hopefully the actor, who was in London for the world premiere last night, has already jumped on a plane and hasn’t seen some of the savage reviews that grace today’s newspapers.

Here is a selection of the most acid:

The Daily Mail, which awarded it One Star, summarised the film as a “Creepy weepie that will make you sleepy”. Christopher Tookey writes: “Diana the movie is not as tacky or sensationalist as one might fear...The trouble is that in being so careful and eager not to offend, the film is a more than a little tedious, with a lightweight, romantic storyline that fails to surprise, let alone sustain a movie that lasts nearly two hours.  It has the slightness of a Barbara Cartland novella, but the love affair is treated with ponderous solemnity, as though it were another Gone With The Wind. It’s slow and terribly, terribly dull.”

The Daily Telegraph, which awarded it Two Stars, decided the film was bookended by “a redundant piece of lurid sensationalism”, ie a portrayal of the night of Diana’s death. David Gritten writes: “Watts makes a decent fist of playing Diana – she wears the clothes well (especially the glamorous ones) and the hair looks first-rate. But though she replicates Diana’s body language attentively (notably in the re-creation of her famous grilling by Martin Bashir, there’s something missing: the Princess’s wounded, doe-eyed gaze…The major problem, predictably, comes with the dialogue, which involves characters telling each other things they already know. ‘I am a heart surgeon!’ declares heart surgeon Khan [Naveen Andrews]. Yes, we get it.”

The Australian branded the script “squirmingly embarrassing” with Kate Muir deeming the film a “Sloane-in-peril melodrama” which even Watts doing her “level best” can’t stop from being “atrocious and intrusive”. She writes: “The film bumps up romance and trivia at the expense of some potentially serious comment about the Royal Family's control of her access to her sons, who hardly feature, and Diana's disturbed behaviour. Watts, who has a prosthetic nose job, plays a feisty character who seems a far cry from the Princess, except when she imitates her shy, demure upward eyelash batting in the Bashir interview, with the line: ‘There were three of us in this marriage.’ Enough said, then and now.”

Digital Spy largely blames Watts’s slight performance for the failure of this film to capture hearts and minds. Emma Dibdin writes: “When you think of messy, raw, emotionally available turns Watts is likely to be among the first names that come to mind, in anything from Mulholland Drive to 21 Grams to this year's The Impossible. Watching her here feels almost like an optical illusion, because you simply don't believe that this actress can be giving this performance – it's stilted, overly mannered and bereft of anything human. In trying (understandably) to portray Diana accurately and reverentially, Watts has neglected to portray a person. Not that the blame for this falls squarely on Watts; it's Jeffreys's script that fails to give her a soul. She states repeatedly her desire "to help people" and we see her famous walk through an Angolan minefield among other philanthropic trips, but none of it seems to matter as much as her desire to secure Hasnat's love, repeatedly and with increasing desperation.”

The Mirror, which also awarded One Star, surmised that Hirschbiegel’s efforts were “fabulously awful”, with David Edwards writing: "The Queen of Hearts has been recast as a sad-sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid. Charting the two years leading up to her death in 1997, the film’s a cheap and cheerless effort that looks like a Channel 5 mid-week matinee. Much like the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, this is a film nobody would bother going to see if it weren’t for the famous characters.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw (another One Star) said he hesitated to use the term “car crash cinema” when critiquing Diana. He writes: “The awful truth is that, 16 years after that terrible day in 1997, Diana 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… 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.”

Naomi Watts as Princess Diana Naomi Watts as Princess Diana  

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own