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.

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

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • Desus Nice The Kid Mero

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Academy Awards, 'Desus & Mero'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, the Academy Awards air and Desus & Mero make their debut on Showtime. [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    BBC Takes Stake in New Company Set Up by ‘Luther,’ ‘Bodyguard’ Exec

    BBC Studios has taken a minority stake in Firebird Pictures, the new drama indie being set up by BBC execs Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth. Kilgarriff’s credits include “Luther,” “Poldark,” “McMafia” and upcoming Richard Gere-starrer “MotherFatherSon.” She commissioned breakout drama hit “Bodyguard.” Holleworth will be the new company’s COO, having run business and operations for [...]

  • Punisher Jessica Jones

    Marvel's 'The Punisher,' 'Jessica Jones' Canceled at Netflix

    The last of Netflix’s Marvel shows are officially ending. “The Punisher” has been canceled after its second season, and the upcoming third season of “Jessica Jones” will be its last, Netflix confirmed on Monday. The announcement comes after Netflix gave the ax to its other Marvel series: “Daredevil,” “Iron First,” and “Luke Cage.” “Marvel’s ‘The Punisher’ will [...]

  • SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake'

    SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake' With 'Desperate Parents' Producer

    SND, the commercial arm of the French TV network M6, has acquired worldwide distribution rights to “Family Shake,” a comedy series written by Baya Kasmi and Michel Leclerc. SND is the latest vertically integrated French film group to start handling live-action series, following TF1 Studio, Studiocanal and Gaumont, among others. Produced by Gaëlle Cholet at [...]

  • 'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by

    'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by 'Crayon Shin-chan'

    The enduringly popular Japanese cartoon franchise “Crayon Shin-chan” has inspired a new animated TV series, “Super Shiro.” “Crayon Shin-chan” has been on air since 1992 and inspired 26 feature films. “Super Shiro” is a fast-paced chase series, for kids, based on original IP by Yoshito Usui and scripted by on Kimiko Ueno.  The series is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content