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 royal Christmas holiday. In the film the Queen and her family are all conveyed as cold-hearted, empty, soulless creatures completely devoted to making Diana’s life an utterly miserable pageant. 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 and dreading the whole affair, then she is promptly weighed before entry. She spends the weekend fighting with the 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 in this unconventional biopic.

Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín must have a certain fascinating with placing women in situations of immense duress as in the case of his prior films Jackie (2016) and Ema (2019). It’s hard to watch a full mental break-down unfold, and for this to be the only focus of the film. 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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