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In the months before its U.K. release, the much-hyped "Diana" biopic has courted a fair amount of controversy, which isn't surprising considering its subject: the late Princess Diana's two-year relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan, who to this day remains guarded about their love affair.
In an interview with the Daily Mail last month, Khan, who is played by Naveen Andrews in the film, slammed the project as "based on hypotheses and gossip. ... [I]f I watched it I would be sitting there saying, 'That's wrong, that's wrong, that's not right' every second. I couldn't put myself through that. It would be absolutely terrible."
Star Naomi Watts has confessed to harboring her own concerns about signing on for the film, first and foremost among them a fear of upsetting Diana's sons, William and Harry. "I do care deeply about how the princes feel, of course," the 44-year-old actress admitted to the Sunday Times. "I am a mum of two boys." She ultimately turned down the part twice before jumping in, prosthetic nose and all.
Now the biopic is eliciting more than just juicy press sound bites: After premiering in London on September 5, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed movie has drawn mostly scathing reviews from British critics.
"I hesitate to use the term 'car crash cinema,'" writes The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. "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."
According to The Times, Watts does "her level best with a squirmingly embarrassing script" -- and the film itself is skewered as "atrocious and intrusive."
Finally, The Telegraph's David Gritten writes, "It's hardly fascinating. It doesn't offer new facts about the Princess's life. And it certainly doesn't explain her complexity or contradictions. That would take a different, better film altogether."
Based on Kate Snell's book "Diana: Her Last Love," the movie opens in U.K. theaters September 20 and will debut stateside November 1.
[via THR, The Daily Beast]