×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Murder of Princess Diana

Creating a fictionalized account of a highly suspect conspiracy theory is a tricky proposition, but 10 years after the tragic death of Princess Diana, fascination with the royal phenom shows no signs of letting up.

With:
Rachel Visco - Jennifer Morrison Thomas Sylvestre - Gregori Derangere Charles David - Kevin McNally Alain - Jules Werner Bertrand - Francois Marthouret

Creating a fictionalized account of a highly suspect conspiracy theory is a tricky proposition, but 10 years after the tragic death of Princess Diana, fascination with the royal phenom shows no signs of letting up. Lifetime is counting on this sustained interest to lure auds to its salacious new original movie, “The Murder of Princess Diana,” based on the bestseller by Noel Botham.

Pic will draw the fanatical as well as the morbidly fascinated and mildly curious, but paranoia is required to actually consider this particular account of events. Apparently, there are enough inconsistencies surrounding the Paris car accident that killed Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed and chauffeur Henri Paul to arouse suspicion in 31% of British citizens and warrant an inquiry by the British High Court this October. However, the evidence presented here, albeit in a slickly produced and earnestly acted movie, is sketchy at best.

“House’s” Jennifer Morrison stars as Rachel Visco, an American journalist and sometime royals watcher who gets a tip that Di and Dodi are in Paris and about to announce some big news. On the scene in hopes of getting the story, Rachel runs into her ex-lover, French police Lt. Thomas Sylvestre (Gregori Derangere), who is working security detail for the couple.

Rachel notices an unprecedented amount of suspicious activity around the couple — specifically, lots of shady characters in suits looking sideways at one another — and follows the throngs of paparazzi that tail the princess on that fateful night. A witness to the events leading to the car crash, Rachel is uneasy about misinformation surrounding the ensuing investigation. She writes her own account of the crash and probes for further information with the help of Thomas, who after some cajoling, and eventual canoodling, also believes in some kind of cover-up.

At one point, a high-ranking British diplomat tells Rachel that her theory is a “good story, and you even had a nice little moral at the end.” But the main problem here is that writers Emma Reeves and Reg Gadney never really come up with any moral nor, most importantly, any real motive, alternately proving and disproving their own theories about celebrity, power and the public fascination with both.

Granted, royals have been killed throughout history for much less than presumably unacceptable romances or pregnancies, but the across-the-board conspiracy theorized here is hard to swallow. It all hinges on the premise that the CIA, MI6, arms dealers and the French police care about the legacy of an ineffectual and antiquated monarchy angered by Diana’s “scene-stealing humanitarianism.”

The film sidesteps any direct mention of the queen and Prince Charles but pretty much points the finger in that general direction. As for Diana herself, she’s glimpsed briefly through the adoring throngs and the far-reaching speculations of Rachel.

Morrison (who looks like a younger Marg Helgenberger) makes for an appealing lead albeit a questionable journalist, while Derangere is a most welcome new French import. Kevin McNally of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise does a nice turn as the icy and cunning Charles David, proving he’s more than a scowling scallywag. Their combined performances rise above the material.

Director John Strickland and lenser Daf Hobson make the most of the script, visually milking the intended paranoia with handheld camera work and clever third-eye angles. Shot on location, in Paris and Luxembourg, the film is at least a visual success.

The Murder of Princess Diana

Lifetime, Sat., Aug. 25, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Luxembourg and Paris by Universal TV Limited for Lifetime Television. Executive producer, Simon Wright; associate producer, Priscilla Parish; producer, Julia Stannard; director, John Strickland; writers, Emma Reeves, Reg Gadney.

Crew: Camera, Daf Hobson; editor, Patrick Moore; music, Nina Humphries; casting, Michelle Guish, Katja Wolf. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: Rachel Visco - Jennifer Morrison Thomas Sylvestre - Gregori Derangere Charles David - Kevin McNally Alain - Jules Werner Bertrand - Francois Marthouret

More TV

  • Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor

    Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor Arrested for Plotting Sex With Minor

    Disney Channel has severed ties with “Andi Mack” actor Stoney Westmoreland following his arrest for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. “Stoney Westmoreland, an actor working on the series ‘Andi Mack,’ was arrested in Salt Lake City today,” a Disney Channel spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “Given the nature of [...]

  • Russian Doll

    TV News Roundup: Natasha Lyonne's 'Russian Doll' Sets Netflix Premiere Date

    On Friday’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for “Russian Doll” and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Brexit” film has a premiere date on HBO FIRST LOOKS Showtime has released a new teaser for the upcoming comedy series, “Black Monday,” which will premiere Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars and is executive produced by Don [...]

  • Vanity Fair Review

    TV Review: 'Vanity Fair'

    There’s something comforting about the predictability of a period piece novel adaptation in the Masterpiece Theater tradition. Knowing the story, or even just the rhythms of the genre, there are rarely many surprises. The women will toss off witticisms and cry careful, pretty tears; the men will steel their jaws and declare their love, ideally [...]

  • FILE - In this April 5,

    CBS Claims Commitment to Ending Harassment. Its Actions Say Otherwise (Column)

    At this point, a new breaking sexual harassment case at CBS isn’t exactly a surprise. Over and over again, powerful CBS company men from producers to executives to the ex-CEO himself have made headlines for propagating decades of harassment and abuse, with dozens of witnesses affirming that the pattern was business as usual. But as [...]

  • Willow ShieldsVariety Portrait Studio, Beautycon Festival

    'Hunger Games' Alum Willow Shields Joins Netflix Drama Series 'Spinning Out'

    Willow Shields has been cast in a series regular role in “Spinning Out,” the upcoming ice skating drama series at Netflix. She joins a cast that also includes Kaya Scodelario, who was announced as the series lead on Thursday, taking over the role originally held by Emma Roberts. Shields will star as Serena, Kat Baker’s (Scodelario) [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content