REVIEW: Diana: The Musical

 Last week I made an attempt to view the film CODA, the Apple TV+ movie that had just won the Academy award for best picture.  Technical issues thwarted my desires, and I was left wandering an ethereal plane of cinematic emptiness.  What should I do now that I am unable to join the conversation on what some consider the best film of 2021?  Well, the answer was simple.  I would watch Diana: The Musical, the movie the Razzies deemed to be the worst of 2021.

Released on Netflix in October of last year, Diana: The Musical is a filmed performance of the Broadway play of the same name, which came to a halt after thirty three performances.  Starring Jeana de Waal as Diana and Roe Hartrampf as Charles, it is the story of Diana Spencer's life from when she was first courted by Charles to her death. 

I'm admittedly perhaps not the target audience here.  I joke about how I dislike musicals (which bares some truth because I don't understand trying to confront life's issues through song and dance), but I quite regularly find myself recommending them.  Keeping an open mind is important, and a good movie is a good movie, regardless of genre.  Also, I really don't care about the British Royal Family.  At all.  Not even a little bit.  Despite those two facts, I told myself that I would enjoy Diana: The Musical and that it would take me by surprise.

Diana: The Musical is a production that contains a very large number of songs, with spoken dialogue being very limited.  I never see this approach as a problem if the songs are good.  When the songs are bland and far from memorable, it makes the viewing painful and endless.  The Broadway play lists twenty nine musical numbers, and I can only remember a single one.  It was kind of catchy, but it still wasn't good.

While there were issues with an overabundance of forgettable songs, the production quality felt adequate.  This is its biggest strength, but it still suffered as a lot of the time it seemed as expository dialogue was the main vehicle for telling us the location of scenes.  There were also some issues around where the characters were positioned relative to what was happening around them, and while I understand they want the audience to see the character's faces, it didn't feel as though they were an actual part of what was happening.

Jeana de Waal was fairly good as The Princess of Wales, but the character is idolized to a point where no flaws of character were really investigated.  There was mention of issues she had dealt with, but nothing challenged the angelic and perfect view they had of their title character.  Also, they want you to know that she was insanely pretty.  If you play a drinking game where you have to take a shot every time the word 'pretty' is used, you will be drinking charcoal and having your stomach pumped before an hour is up.

I have seen a lot of really horrible movies from last year, and I don't think that Diana: The Musical is the worst one out there.  This recorded version of the short-lived stage play isn't on the same level as some of the horrible offenders from last year.  That's maybe the biggest compliment I can give it.  The bombardment of songs are uninspired, and the characters are caricatures.  Charles is flat out evil, and Diana is the greatest person the world has ever seen.  If you are into Diana idolization, you will probably enjoy this more than I.  If you're a realist, you most likely will not.