Spencer ★★★★

Spencer is a painfully intimate portrait of the much-misrepresented Diana, giving her a film from her perspective, and completely empathetic to her. Kristen Stewart's performance is impeccable as she blends into a Diana much more real than previous medias have shown, graphically exploring her depression, whilst also combining her pain with her positive influence on those around her.

Unlike a royal film like The King's Speech, Spencer is about overcoming royalist traditions from an outsider perspective, and presents a purely critical lens to approach them. It does that quite interestingly through a very literal conflation of Diana with Anne Boleyn, comparing their statuses as discarded princesses, cruelly overlooked and destroyed by those around them on the whims of their husbands.

With its cold cinematography, and Greenwood's free-jazz-based score (offering up an aural break from royal convention), Larrain uses horror film techniques to create an unsettling, anxiety-inducing atmosphere, with no escape. With mist and ghosts and overbearing stately homes, its hard not to think of The Others, with Spencer using that reference point to show Diana's life within the Royal family as being an equivalent to that.

Emotionally, the film hits at every painful and devastating moment, but also hits all the happy and bittersweet notes, especially with Diana's interactions with her children, and the temporary joy of the ending. It's a marvellous experience, and one much more investing than I expected, as someone uninterested in the Royals and all that stuff.

Definitely recommend, especially in a big screen setting, on a chilly day.

2021 Ranked

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