The film, which focuses on her love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, had its worldwide premiere in London.
While it’s impossible to draw a direct link to racism, the critical vituperation is so thick, it suggests British reviewers were as galled by the movie, as most Britons were when Diana’s affair with Khan was first publicized.
During their relationship, Khan was bombarded by racist death threats, according to UK reports. Of course, the hate directed at him by the British public wasn’t included in the movie. Likewise, Diana’s own deviousness, petulance and notorious temper were glossed over as well.
The critics showed Watts no mercy.
“Watts is noticeably at least five inches too short, nowhere near as athletic in her build, and eight years too old,” wrote Daily Mail critic Christopher Tookey.
“Most of all, Naomi lacks the star quality of Diana, her ability to look photogenic from every angle, her miraculous ability to wear clothes and make them look the best they ever could be. What she lacks, fatally, is glamour,” he added.
Of course, most British critics said the same thing about Meryl Streep when she played former UK Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher, and Streep won an Academy Award for the role.
Based solely on the reaction of the British media, however, the movie scored a lowly 14 percent rating on rottentomatoes, which tracks reviews, even though 85 percent of those answering a poll want to see it.
“Diana can only be described as a fabulously awful film,” wrote David Edwards of the UK’s Daily Mirror.
“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,” he added.
Robert Jobson, royal editor of the London Evening Standard, was the only reviewer out of seven UK critics to give it a thumb’s up.
“Princess Diana was a deeply complex, sometimes infuriating, loveable, controversial woman who inspired great emotion in her lifetime; the ultimate tragic heroine. This movie certainly captures something of her,” he wrote.
The London premiere was held Sept. 5; it will be released in the UK on Sept. 20 and in the United States on Nov. 1. Check out a trailer below, let us know your thoughts and follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest movie updates.