Spencer (2021)

During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.

SPENCER is a fascinating slice of time in Princess Diana’s life that is representative of what I imagine the rest of her life as a British Royal would have been like as she experiences a breakdown of her marriage and her mental health. It only takes place over a Christmas holiday in just one location. But the director, Pablo Larrain, has created a movie with layers of depth that is richly nuanced. While the story is short, we feel as though we’ve lived an entire life as the credits roll. It’s a reimagining of real life — but the reimagining may very well be more “truthful” than if it was merely an objective description of events. It’s historical fiction at its best.

Kristen Stewart’s performance as Diana is brilliant and should win awards for it — she has already been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and a Critics’ Choice Award for best actress. Whoever cast her was inspired. Without seeing the movie, it was hard to imagine Stewart in the role. But once we are viewing the movie, we forget it’s Stewart and are treated to an authentic portrayal so “real” that we are convinced we are watching Diana. The performance is not about reproducing exactly the look of Diana (although Stewart comes close with various makeup trickery), but of inhabiting her mannerisms and voice. It’s a stunning and courageous performance.

The cinematography by Claire Mathon is outstanding and the location is almost a character in the telling of the story. 

SPENCER is beautifully paced and completely engaging. I was riveted through every minute of this often heart-wrenching exploration of Diana and the culture she struggled to survive in. Not everything works, of course. But it’s a fresh and compelling vision of one of the world’s most popular women.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

(In cinemas in Australia – check your movie guide for your local show times.)


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  • Queen Bees **½ – I laughed twice so to say it’s a comedy is a pretty big stretch.