Even before I really knew who she was, I remember my mom talking about Princess Diana nearly all the time. There were stacks of magazines at home with her face plastered on the cover, with many attempting to replicate her style. The royal wedding between Diana and Prince Charles was all that anyone could talk about, the excitement felt all across the world. Women gravitated towards Diana, and the media loved her, perhaps because she was so dissimilar to the royals we were used to.
The film, Diana’s Wedding, is built on contrast, juxtaposing the life of a regular Norwegian family with that of Diana’s. Liv (Marie Blokhus, “Forgotten Christmas”) and Terje (Pål Sverre Hagen, “Kon-Tiki”) wed on the same day as Charles and Diana, the former’s simple wedding a major contrast to the lavish royal wedding we all got to see on TV. Married life is filled with ups and downs for the pair. All the lovely words and high spirits of the wedding transform to extreme moments of tension when their daughter Diana is born. But director Charlotte Blom also shows us the tender and sweet moments, like Terje tidying up the outside area of their house after Liv makes a comment about it, or Liv offering to teach him how to swim when she finds out that he can’t.
At the same time, these sweet moments spiral to other moments of conflict later on, which just feels true to married life. An act of kindness now may become ammunition later on. Liv and Terje’s neighbors Unni (Jannike Kruse, “Psychobitch”) and Olav (Olav Waastad) have it worse — their marriage is clearly in dire straits, and the pair are just existing in status quo. Unni feels that as a woman she needs to suck it up and bear her husband’s mistreatment of her, but much like the Princess of Wales herself, she eventually learns that you need to prioritize yourself if you want a happy life.
There is a sense of pathos here for the children of these couples. These fights between Liv and Terje occur in full view of their children Diana and Cato. Diana, who is the older child, is clearly more affected by their perpetual disagreements, especially since she is privy to the secrets that Terje keeps from Liv. Cato (John Emil Jørgensrud) grows up to be more well-adjusted, so it’s apparent that Liv and Terje managed to figure out their coupledom as they got older, and because Diana (Ine Marie Wilmann, “Sonja: The White Swan”) escaped them as quickly as she could, all she remembers is the constant fighting.
It is certainly reminiscent of children who fear their own married lives when they get older, terrified of replicating their parents’ failures. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good stuff when the bad stuff has greater impact. The tender moments are quieter, out of sight, while the fights are loud and visceral. At the end of the day, married life, or just life in general, is never going to be as smooth-sailing or as picturesque as one’s wedding day. There are going to be trying moments, and even moments where you wonder if you need to walk away — holding onto the love that you and your partner share will get you to the next day, and the day after that.
Blom’s Diana’s Wedding does really well in communicating the authenticity of married life, though it can be a bit much at times to see conflict after conflict play out on screen. I understand the intention, I just wished we got more of a balance, even if real life doesn’t really work that way.