Spencer (2021) Review

Spencer (2021) Director: Pablo Larraín

Rating: 2 out of 5.

While Kristen Stewart deserves high praise for an intense performance as Princess Diana, I thought Spencer was a wholly imbalanced, revisionist portrayal of one particular Christmas holiday for the British royals. In the film, the Queen and her family are all shown to be cold-hearted, empty, soulless creatures, completely devoted toward the end of making Diana’s life an utterly miserable affair. An opening title sequence aptly describes the film as “a fable from a true tragedy.” In the film, Diana arrives at the royal family’s Christmas retreat for three days –she is late to the party and dreading the whole orchestration of this pageantry, and then she is promptly placed on a scale to measure her body’s weight before entry. She spends the weekend fighting with the royal help, hallucinating about her past, vomiting, and imagining herself to be Anne Boleyn. Being trapped inside the royal cage could not be more psychologically traumatizing than portrayed in this unconventional biopic.

Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín must have had a certain fascination with placing women in situations of immense duress, as in the case of his prior films Jackie (2016) and Ema (2019). It is hard to watch this mental break-down unfold, there is nothing particularly enlightening, redemptive, or inspiring about this flick. My preference would be for a more nuanced biopic which explores the true ups and downs of the Princess Diana saga.

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