Aside from a few television productions, no one has had the nerve to take on the Princess Diana story. That may have been a wise choice. Because she was the most photographed woman in the world during the 1980s and 90s, any actress attempting to play her would come up short.
Naomi Watts is nearly as recognizable in her own right, creating a double problem for the makers of Diana (2013). Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the film focuses on the last several years of Diana’s life and a little known relationship with a British Pakistani physician. As a romantic melodrama, it works.
Watts plays her as a lovable goof. One with an enviable wardrobe, of course. That public side of the Princess of Wales, she of the Vera Wang gowns and Jimmy Choo pumps, gets plenty of coverage. She’s also seen stalking the good-looking Dr. Khan, played with restraint by Naveen Andrews [The Buddah of Suburbia, Lost].
Diana’s work on behalf of the campaign against land mines received worldwide attention. She’s shown in a hospital comforting injured children. During her lifetime, the real Diana was both admired and mocked for her efforts. The film makes the case that she was more than a media creation. At the same time, she understood the “photo-op” and its importance in advancing her cause.
Besides a mobile the size of a walkie-talkie, Diana comes across as a contemporary film not a period piece.
The relentless paparazzi, who at least indirectly contributed to her death, are a constant threat. In the film, she’s also shown manipulating the press. Poor Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar) unknowingly acts a shill in a scheme to win back Hasnat Khan. We all know how that worked out.