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Stars: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, Sean Harris, Jack Farthing, Stella Gonet

Director: Pablo Larrain

The Buck House gang (Diana included) suffers a right royal hatchet job in this fanciful but boring look at the Princess of Wales' last Christmas with the royal family in 1991. But can it really have been as stultifying as this?

There's a very slow start with long-held shots of a car driving along country roads as Diana (Stewart) gets lost on her way to Sandringham - unnecessary tracking shots figure prominently in the narrative - and you could doze off for the first 10 minutes and not miss a thing.

Diana's frayed nerves are at breaking point as the holiday - in spite of the presence of her sons - proves as bad, if not worse than she expected. She fantasises the ghost of Anne Boleyn, meets the partially sympathetic major-domo (Spall, with a wonderfully growly Scottish accent) and the very sympathetic head chef (Harris) in charge of the various banquets.

There's also a ludicrous relationship with a lady-in-waiting (surely the worst role of Hawkins' career) with a lesbian lust for Lady Di.

Stewart is fascinating as Diana, with the portrait obviously benefiting from a deep study of the subject (and the cameramen doing their best to disguise her lack of height) although her whispered efforts at perfecting Diana's cultured tones occasionally lead to her dialogue being almost inaudible.

But the script! Ach! The screenplay is just terrible. If this family has little connection with real life, their dialogue has even less. In the old studio days, this script would have been junked and the writers ordered to start again.

David Quinlan

Germany/UK 2021. UK Distributor: STX Films. Colour by Kodak.
110 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 31 Oct 2021