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Critics savage Diana biopic

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Naomi Watts put on a brave face and a party frock for the premiere of the Princess Diana biopic. She will be substantially less cheerful when she reads the reviews. It is apparent already that the film is in danger of going down in cinema history as one of the all-time turkeys.

In The Guardian, critic Peter Bradshaw provocatively called the film "car crash cinema . . . an excruciatingly well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental biopic about her troubled final years, laced with bizarre cardboard dialogue." The Times called the film "atrocious and intrusive", the Mirror describing it as a "cheap and cheerless effort that looks like a Channel 5 mid-week matinee".

It won't do Watts's career much good. Bizarrely she had seemed more concerned about matters of taste rather than the script. "The biggest reason that made me pause was how the princes were going to be feel about this," she said. "I did see Prince William in a restaurant, and I got very nervous, because if I caught his eye I didn't want to interpret a look and think he had a negative feeling about this idea, so I made sure not to look. But it was a story that was bound to be told at some point, and it's possibly fresher than people expected."

Fresh is not the consensus coming from the reviews. There is surprise that German director Oliver Hirschbiegel could preside over such a clumsy and cliched attempt to tell an idealised love story about Diana and her affair with surgeon Hasnat Khan.

The director's previous work included the acclaimed Downfall, tracing the final days of Hitler. The film became an internet meme, with Hitler's rants replaced by a myriad of banal subjects. It's only a matter of time before the Downfall parody features the Fuhrer lamenting the dramatic career decline of Hirschbiegel.

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