Spencer ★½

Pick. A. Fucking. Metaphor. Diana as a wild horse that can’t be tamed. Diana as beautiful but dumb pheasants, bred to be killed. Diana as currency being passed between men. Diana as a P.O.W. (Princess of Wales, clever that). Diana as Anne Boleyn (literally conversing with her ghost and sharing horror stories about their respective husbands). And that’s not even counting all the torturous business with Diana’s obsession with her father’s ratty old jacket, contrasted with the gowns she’s instructed to wear (and in which order) or her quest to break into the neighboring house where she grew up, dilapidated and boarded up yet only a stone’s throw from the country estate where she feels held hostage. It’s the sort of film where Larraín stages a dramatic two-hander between Diana and Charles across a billiards table and the substance of the scene is dwarfed by the anticipation as to whether or not Diana will dramatically break the carefully arranged balls, only further upending the status quo. It all plays like community theater filled with obvious signifiers and soliloquies, inexplicably shot to look like THE SHINING (nothing like equating a long weekend at a manor surrounded by people with the madness of months of isolation but, hey, steadicam shots down winding hallways and walk-in freezers… ya need me to draw you a map?). Also the full context of the image used for the film’s poster is *hilarious*. Finally, I know these award season narratives tend to take on a life of their own and Stewart would hardly be the first actor to be rewarded for what’s nowhere near their best work but I’m having a hard time seeing how this performance is anything more than a Kate McKinnon-style impersonation and some effective hair & makeup work. I’m glad people have come around on Stewart as an actress but is this even the best Diana performance of the last few years? (I’m genuinely asking, I didn’t watch “The Crown”)

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