Unlawful Killing: Cannes Review
Cannes Film Festival, Market
Lady Diana, Mohamed Al Fayed, Tony Curtis, Howard Stern
Funded by Dodi Fayed's father Mohamed, doc presents several far-fetched conspiracy theories about the ex-royal's death.
CANNES -- On the heels of the British Royal Wedding and Princess Diana’s upcoming 50th birthday, Dodi Fayed’s father, Mohamad Al Fayed, has helped finance this documentary film to inform the world of the far-reaching, royal-inspired conspiracy that killed the late princess and his son. Instead, this scattergun film should only backfire on the conspiracy theorists that cling to the notion that speeding through a Parisian tunnel with a drunken driver at the wheel is not a plausible cause of death. If the Monty Python troupe ever wanted to lampoon conspiracy-theory filmmakers, it would be hard to top this one.
A defense lawyer’s last-gasp tactic in defending a guilty client is to cloud up the prevailing evidence with an onslaught of other possibilities, no matter how remote: That is the tactic and style that director Keith Allen reverts to.
In this high twaddle, Allen shells out in rapid-cut succession a barrage of other possible scenarios: Arms dealers wanted Diana dead because of her opposition to land mines; Prince Philip knew Nazis as a young man, so obviously he wanted Dodi offed; the press always is pro-establishment (that’s a new one on me) and facilitated the high-power cover-up; Christians did not want their princess impregnated by a Muslim; the driver was a member of the French secret police and willingly drove to his own death at their orders; the coroner’s report was flawed and medical officials never make human errors, on and on.
Aesthetically, the balderdash is buttressed by solid filmmaking techniques and slippery aesthetic snippet-ry: Quick cuts to not allow for any serious rumination; percussive music to infuse profundity; and Robin Quivers' semi-serious remark that since Mohamed Al Fayed owns Harrods, he must be an all-right kind of guy.
And, enhancing the visual high piffle, what could better trumpet veracity and clarity than interviews with a bunch of smartly dressed Brits in ascots intoning with all the high-truth that their tony accents impart.
In the interests of full disclosure, I received a thank-you letter from Dodi Fayed for a review I did of F-X at Sundance way back when, indicating to me that he had potential as a rising producer in that he knew enough to butter up the trade press.
With similar fair-mindedness and solicitation of justice, I offer up said letter to bidders and will gladly entertain 5-6 figure, cash offers. Then again, perhaps the filmmakers will somehow link me to the byzantine conspiracy of having the long-range foresight to capitalize on the death of Lady Diana and Dodi Fayed, and was somehow involved. You may choff and chortle, but that’s the level of absurdity offered up as evidence of a conspiracy in this dodo-headed documentary.
Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Market
Production company: Locomotive
Cast: Lady Diana, Mohamed Al Fayed, Tony Curtis, Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Piers Morgan, Kitty Kelly, Tony Curtis, Simone Simmons
Director: Keith Allen
Screenwriters: Victor Lewis-Smith, Paul Sparks
Music: Dave Stewart
Editor: John Warburton
No rating, 85 minutes
Sundance: On the Scene