Spencer Movie Review Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars
Star Cast: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Stella Gonet, Sally Hawkins and ensemble.
Director: Pablo Larraín
What’s Good: Pablo and Steven Knight get into Princess Diana’s head as she lives the caged life. Kristen Stewart takes the characters and breaks free like a wildfire.
What’s Bad: That it will get only limited screens in India. Grab your chance and enter that cinema hall if you are fortunate to get a show.
Loo Break: The camera is on Stewart 90 percent of the runtime, you will keep avoiding the nature’s call until it’s too urgent.
Watch or Not?: If you miss this one, you will probably never know the range Kristen has and the prolific filmmaking Pablo does.
Available on: Theatres near you, finally!
Runtime: 117 minutes.
Spencer is 3 days into Princess Diana’s life during the Christmas eve of 1991 at 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 the existence that demands the world to bow. Director Pablo Larraín describes Spencer as ‘a fable from a true tragedy’, A FABLE, so let’s consume it like that. We all are aware of the fact that Princess Diana was always the black sheep in the Royal family and that she did rebel against the monotony and caged existence she was put into. Emma Corrin in Netflix’s hit series The Crown has immaculately explained that.
Writer Steven Knight in my observation does understand the existence of that performance and writes Spencer in a deeper and personal way. It is almost him telling us that you already know who these Royals are, you know what they did to Diana, what you don’t are her personal battles and we are here to show you just that. We are looking at this world through the lens the Princess Of Wales saw it with, especially in those three days of Christmas eve.
This gives the writers the room to have the complete focus on Diana and her mind that is functioning at full speed. Her husband (Prince Charles) is in an extramarital affair (with Camilla Parker Bowles never named), she is being slowly wiped out of his life, her children are brought up contradictory to how she wants. So it is just her who is in the frame. So even Queen Elizabeth becomes a character in the background. Only Charles gets a bit more limelight, because he is the immediate partner. Sally Hawkins’ Maggie is a character that grows eventually and beautifully.
Princess Diana is Bulimic, so when the food comes to the kitchen through an army carrier, it feels like a weapon consignment. It’s her head that is playing with her. She is almost prisoned in a beautiful yet spooky palace, she walks through empty corridors but still has eyes on her. She is told what to wear, when to eat and when to not be where she wants to. The psychological pressure and worsening due to captivity is what the script explores.
While the dresses she is going to wear are tagged POW (Princes Of Wales or Prisoners Of War?), the curtains in her room are stitched from the centre as if she might fly free and never return. When she expressed her wish to see her childhood home, she is stopped by the police. She is finding a home and all that the Royal culture puts her in is a beautiful prison laced with golden chains. The writing gets into the very essence of who the Princess was how keen she was to find herself, her identity.
While it focuses on how much she loved being free and wild, it also reminds you of the aching motherhood in her that wants her boys to taste freedom breaking their robotic existence.
Spencer Movie Review: Star Performance
Kristen Stewart is already walking red carpets of all the prestigious gala nights and I hope she comes out victorious from them. She gets into the character that is more in emoting with eyes than words. Steven Knight and Pablo Larraín make her translate the emotions through her demeanour. Her walk gets aggressive, her eyes bigger when she can’t take the pressure anymore. Even the blinking of eyes is measured. Stewart does all that and more effortlessly. It looks like she was born to play Diana one day.
Sally Hawkins (Shape Of Water) gets to play Maggie, Diana’s dresser and confidant. The bond they form is special. And just while you think why would an actor of the stature of Hawkins would play such a limited part, the movie drops the biggest and the boldest bomb. Won’t spoil it for you.
Timothy Spall gets to play a silent spectator but an important person in the movie. You will see. Jack Farthing as Prince Charles is instantly hateable and well that’s the job done in this case. Stella Gonet becomes Queen Elizabeth, while she isn’t given much frame, it is a character touched by Claire Foy and The Olivia Colman, Gonet falls a bit short.
Spencer Movie Review: Direction, Music
Pablo Larraín is aware that the story he is translating on the screen is horrific and claustrophobic, so he makes sure the lobbies are beautiful and haunting, and the camera zooms enough into Kristen Stewart’s deeply saddening and blinkering eyes. He wins the game at the point when he decides to make his subject break all the shackles and dance through some of the most iconic moments from her history, including her marriage to the times she was recognised as the ‘people’s queen’.
Remember when I said even when alone, eyes are always on Princess Diana? Claire Mathon takes this one line and makes it the vision for the whole movie. The camera follows Diana at the most vulnerable points in those three days and makes it look like someone is just sneaking in to get the gossip. Wide shots giving only enough that you don’t feel freedom, and closed ones that make you feel claustrophobic are just some of the amazing things about the masterwork Mathon does.
Jonny Greenwood’s music in itself is a character in Spencer. The musician catches the beats that Kristen Stewart as Diana is thinking on and makes that his crescendo. Most of the time he reaches the highest note and leaves it just there, because if his subject is yet to get her redemption, how the tune coming out of her will?
Spencer Movie Review: The Last Word
At one point, William (Diana’s eldest son) while consoling her says, “There have to be two of you,” (one for the world and one for self), Diana rebels against just that and you must not miss that battle. PS: Spencer was Princess Diana’s maiden name, incase you aren’t aware yet!
Spencer releases on 19th November, 2021.
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Not into period-dramas? Check out our Red Notice movie review for a slick, action film.