Wednesday, November 24, 2021


Set at Christmas of 1991, Spencer offers a peek into the holiday with the Royal Family during a tumultuous time between Diana, Princess of Wales (Kristen Stewart), and her husband Prince Charles (Jack Farthing). With her husband's affair and her marriage at a breaking point, Diana is forced into the traditions and expectations of the holiday which she begins fighting in her own way to try and avoid a death of one-thousand cuts.

The movie is most notable for the lovely performance of the fragile Diana feeling trapped on all sides and even haunted by Anne Boleyn (Amy Manson), whose similarities to her own situation have become a bit of an obsession. Stewart is perfect here in a role that requires a tremendous amount of vulnerability to carry a film with very little actual plot through until the end.

Shown from Diana's perspective, we get some terrific scenes with her sons (Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry) and some candid conversations with various members of the help including a lone friendly face (Sally Hawkins), the disapproving head of the household (Timothy Spall), and the candid chef (Sean Harris). It's notable that we see far more interaction here than Diana has with any other member of the family, other than her sons.

Spencer succeeds in recreating the secluded yet extremely public life of Diana. Along with Stewart you can easily see award nominations for sets, costumes, and cinematography. While the I think the movie could shorten some of its montages and long sequences of characters walking down some undeniably gorgeous hallways, and I would argue it makes a mistake by racing past what was the perfect shot to end the movie on in order to offer a low-key typical family moment, Spencer is an easy recommendation both for the portrait of Diana and for Stewart's performance. It's a melancholy film centered around a profoundly unhappy woman that still manages to find moments of such pure joy that it somehow comes off hopeful and life affirming.

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