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Diana had all the makings of Oscar bait as a film based on a popular real person and starring a popular, acclaimed actress. But it doesn’t look like Naomi Watts will get another shot at an Oscar, at least as far as British critics are concerned. She might have better chances at the Razzies.
As the BBC notes, Diana, which focuses on the late Princess Diana’s relationship with surgeon Hasnat Khan (played by Lost’s Naveen Andrews), had its world premiere in London Thursday. The response from British critics was overwhelming negativity.
“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,” the Mirror’s David Edwards wrote, noting that the director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, “should know better.”
He slammed Watts, noting that she “looks utterly, completely and entirely nothing like the real thing,” later adding, “Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would be more convincing.”
The Daily Mail’s review can only be described as epic. “It never succeeds in being moving, or even involving. It’s not even enjoyably bad,” Christopher Tookey wrote.
Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian gave it a one-star review. “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,” he wrote. “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.”
CBS News notes that there was at least one positive review. “The Oscar-nominated Watts gives a brilliant, passionate and believable performance as the tragic Diana,” The Standard’s Robert Jobson wrote. “For me, the British/Australian actress captures the vulnerability and complexity of the late Princess, in her almost manic, desperate search for love.”
Diana opens in the U.S. on Nov. 1, which is when we’ll learn if critics on this side of the Atlantic like it.
image: Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for IWC/image.net