Di-ing to Like These Royal Biopics…
3 recently reviewed made Royal Biopics. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Diana TRAILER 1 (2013) – Princess Diana Movie HD, Movie Clips:Coming Soon, http://www.youtube.com and photographs © Entertainment 1 (Diana), lifetime (William & Kate) and BBC Worldwide (Wolf Hall).
I usually love biography films and books, and usually end up reading up on the person concerned for days afterwards and ultimately end up feeling like I almost have stalker like knowledge. It’s usually a good film especially if it has one, Oscar (ever) hopeful, Leonardo DiCaprio in it. If the biopic is about a historical figure, I grill my husband by asking him to tell me more as he’s pretty good at history. He also delves into the social history of the time and tells me more about the person concerned. He’s been my font of all knowledge for Scandal (1989) and The Aviator (2004).
In return, I can tell him more of what I’ve learnt from biographies about stars like Oliver Reed, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Robert Wagner. And of course more recently my favourite Dallasers autobiographies those of Larry Hagman and Linda Gray. So goes both ways.
However, the recent Royal biopic film, Diana (2013) I found extremely irritating. It tells the story of Great Britain’s former – and sadly now deceased – Princess Diana’s final two years before her untimely death. It focuses on her loving relationship with a heart surgeon named Hasnet Khan. As much as I wanted to like Naomi Watts’ as Diana her face and voice irked me, I think it didn’t help having Juliet Stevenson – she played ghost Alan Rickman’s alive girlfriend Nina, in Truly Madly Deeply (1990) – in the cast as Stevenson’s face was more reminiscent of Diana’s.
Perhaps both actresses should have used the Face/Off (1997) machine that Jason Statham’s secret agent character Rick Ford longs for in the comedy Spy (2015). Ms Watts’ wardrobe is amazing and memorable and at times you almost do expect it to be Diana from behind until she turns round. It’s also got the cheesiest romantic montage you’ll ever see and easily out cheese those scenes I once found endearing of Cameron Diaz and Jude Law frolicking behind trees in The Holiday (2006). But if you do watch Diana look out for the quips made by the police and the surgeon’s colleagues when Diana and him starts dating, as an expat Scot, if true they made Britain great.
Diana is worth seeing if you like biographies particularly those written by potential Mills and Boon authors. It’s much better than the truly awful William & Kate (2011) tv movie made to
cash in tie in with the heir to the throne Prince Charles’s son William’s then impending wedding to Catherine Middleton. This Royal biopic didn’t have anyone particularly famous in it apart from one actor I vaguely recognised from TV’s Aussie soap, Neighbours (1985-).
The film becomes more like an “Asylum Production does a Royal Biography film” as in addition to the soap star, British National Treasure Kristin Scott Thomas’s younger sister Serena stars in it as Kate’s mum Carole. In the Scottish based scenes – with the chunk of the film being filmed in Los Angeles – William and Kate was more of a Fife Tourist Information Film about places to go in St Andrews. This wee Scottish town is now more famous as being the town where these particular Royals courted than its previous low-key claim as being where more famous golf tournaments are played. Having been there recently on a trip home, it seems every shop has its own wee claim to fame that William and Kate had been there from coffee shops to fish and chip shops. Luckily now even smaller Scottish Town of Falkland, also in Fife, is the centre of attention as the Outlander (2014) fans headed by the more predatory Jamie groupies have invaded.
In contrast, the excellent Wolfe Hall (2015), has Claire Foy as Ann Boleyn and natural redhead Damian Lewis as Henry VIII which was wonderful, well written and much more believable. Having a natural redhead as Henry seems to be the key, as I still have fond memories of watching the film, Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972) where Keith Michell played him. And no Bond Girl Solitaire, Jane Seymour didn’t play Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour. But she did take her stage name from her. Wolfe Hall starred Liam Neeson’s character Daniel’s kid Sam, from Love Actually (2003), as although 12 years older could still look 13 if you gave him helium and got him to walk around on his knees.
More credible was Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, who I always feel looks what I imagine to be Tudorish – after reading tons of books on this history period as a kid – after seeing him in the The Other Boleyn Girl (2008). In which, he plays Anne and Mary Boleyn’s father Thomas Boleyn with Kristin Scott Thomas – Serena’s sister – as their mother. Ironically this particular Scott Thomas ruined this film for me because I kept seeing her as her character Fiona in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) . Other cast members were more photogenic than their historical predecessors, such as Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, Scarlett Johansson as her sister Mary and Henry VIII by Eric Bana. Or as most men call him Lucky Eric. So to conclude, do as I do if you are watching a Royal biography film or TV series, take it with a huge pinch of salt as it could be a right Royal Catastrophe.
Weeper Rating: :-(/10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 /10
Bonus Trailer : Here’s some additional trailers of William and Kate and Wolfe Hall
William and Kate: The Movie official trailer, The Royal Family Channel, http://www.youtube.com
Wolf Hall: Trailer – BBC Two, BBC, http://www.youtube.com
This review was submitted to the Royalty on Film Blogathon. For more reviews with Juliet Stevenson, she features in my review HERE on 5 Faces of Alan Rickman. Eric Bana is written about in my Special Correspondents review HERE and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Claire Foy stars in my The Crown review and Camilla Luddington who played Kate Middleton stars in my Californication one.