Star cast: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Stella Gonet, Sally Hawkins and Ensemble.
Director: Pablo Larrain
What is good: Pablo and Steven Knight get inside Princess Diana’s head as she lives the caged life. Kristen Stewart takes the characters and breaks out like wildfire.
What’s bad: That it only gets limited screens in India. Take your chance and enter that cinema hall if you are lucky enough to get a show.
loo break: The camera is on Stewart 90 percent of the runtime, you keep avoiding nature’s call until it’s too urgent.
To watch or not?: If you miss this one, you’ll probably never know the scope of Kristen and the prolific filmmaking Pablo does.
Available on: Theaters near you, finally!
Duration: 117 minutes.
Spencer is 3 days into the life of Princess Diana on Christmas Eve 1991 on the Sandringham Estate in London, when she battled inner demons, struggled with deteriorating mental health and finally decided to end her marriage to Prince Charles!
Spencer Movie Review: Script Analysis
‘The Royals’, a life of symmetry and existence that forces the world to bend. Director Pablo Larraín describes Spencer as ‘a fable from a true tragedy’, A FABLE, so let’s take it that way. We are all aware of the fact that Princess Diana has always been the black sheep in the royal family and she rebelled against the monotony and caged existence into which she ended up. Emma Corrin in Netflix’s hit series The Crown has explained that perfectly.
Writer Steven Knight, in my observation, understands the existence of that performance and writes Spencer in a deeper and personal way. It’s almost him telling us that you already know who these Royals are, you know what they did to Diana, what you’re not, are her personal battles and we’re here to show you exactly that. We look at this world through the lens through which the Princess of Wales saw it, especially in those three days of Christmas Eve.
This gives the writers the space to have full focus on Diana and her mind running at full throttle. Her husband (Prince Charles) has an extramarital affair (with Camilla Parker Bowles never mentioned), she is slowly wiped out of his life, her children are raised contradictory to how she wants them to be. So it is only she who is in the frame. So even Queen Elizabeth becomes a character in the background. Only Charles gets a little more attention, because he is the direct partner. Maggie from Sally Hawkins is a character that grows eventually and beautifully.
Princess Diana is bulimic, so when the food comes into the kitchen via an army porter, it feels like a weapons shipment. It’s her head playing with her. She is almost locked in a beautiful but haunted palace, she walks through empty corridors but still has her eye on her. She is told what to wear, when to eat and when not to be where she wants to be. The psychological pressure and deterioration resulting from captivity is what the script explores.
While the dresses she will be wearing are labeled POW (Princes Of Wales or Prisoners Of War?), the curtains in her room are sewn from the center as if she would fly free and never come back. When she expressed her wish to see her childhood home, she is stopped by the police. She finds a home and all that royal culture places her in is a beautiful prison laced with gold chains. The writing gets to the essence of who the princess was, how much she wanted to find herself, her identity.
While it focuses on how much she loved being free and wild, it also reminds you of the painful motherhood in her that wants her boys to taste the freedom that breaks their robotic existence.
Spencer Movie Review: Star Performance
Kristen Stewart has been walking the red carpets of all the prestigious gala evenings and I hope she comes out victorious. She gets into the character that has more to do with eyes than words. Steven Knight and Pablo Larraín let her translate the emotions through her attitude. Her step becomes aggressive, her eyes widen when she can’t take the pressure anymore. Even the blink of the eyes is measured. Stewart does all that and more effortlessly. It seems she was once born to play Diana.
Sally Hawkins (Shape Of Water) gets to play Maggie, Diana’s dresser and confidant. The bond they form is special. And just as you’re thinking why an actor of Hawkins’ caliber would play such a limited role, the film drops its biggest and boldest bombshell. Won’t spoil it for you.
Timothy Spall may play a silent spectator, but an important person in the film. You will see. Jack Farthing as Prince Charles is instantly hateful and that’s the job in this case. Stella Gonet becomes Queen Elizabeth, although she doesn’t get much frame, it’s a character who is touched by Claire Foy and The Olivia Colman, Gonet falls a little short.
Spencer Movie Review: Direction, Music
Pablo Larraín is aware that the story he translates on screen is horrific and claustrophobic, so he makes sure the lobbies are beautiful and terrifying, and the camera zooms in enough on Kristen Stewart’s deeply saddened and blinking eyes. He wins the game the moment he decides to let his subject break all bonds and dance through some of the most iconic moments in her history, including her wedding to the times she was recognized as the “Queen of the People.”
Remember when I said that even when you’re alone, the eyes are always on Princess Diana? Claire Mathon takes this one line and makes it the vision for the entire movie. The camera follows Diana at her most vulnerable points in those three days and makes it look like someone is just sneaking in to get the gossip. Wide shots that give just enough to not feel freedom, and closed shots that make you feel claustrophobic are just some of the amazing things about Mathon’s masterpiece.
Jonny Greenwood’s music itself is a character in Spencer. The musician catches the beats that Kristen Stewart thinks of as Diana and makes it his crescendo. Usually he reaches the highest note and just leaves it there, because if his subject has yet to get her release, how will the tune get out of her?
Spencer Movie Review: The Last Word
At one point William (Diana’s eldest son) as he comforts her says, “There must be two of you” (one for the world and one for herself), Diana rebels against that and you can’t miss that fight. . PS: Spencer was Princess Diana’s maiden name, in case you didn’t already know!
Spencer will be released on November 19, 2021.
Share with us your viewing experiences Spencer.