Spencer

Spencer ★★★★★

Having watched Tár two days in a row and declaring it my favorite film of the year, though admittedly I do have a large number of 2022 films left to see, I thought it only right to revisit my favorite film from last year. In particular my favorite performance from last year. I've said in a few of my several reviews for this movie that I believe Stewart gives one of the best performances of the last decade, that is still absolutely true, she just shares that distinction with Cate Blanchett now as well.

From the voice to the mannerisms Stewart seems to completely inhabit Diana, or at least this interpretation of her. She's able to illuminate the brightness that Diana seemed to have while also capturing and expressing so much anxiety and exhaustion from stress. She captures the spirit of, I won't say Diana herself but of this representation and interpretation so much so that there isn't any of Kristen Stewart left on screen for any of this movie.

"Oh, she really does make a fuss this one, doesn't she?"

Pablo Larraín does an excellent job of establishing Diana's disconnect from the Royal Family, and also the intimidation and power that they represent, that overhead shot of her car as she drivers onto the grounds and up to main building exemplifies the latter perfectly. The dynamic is set up immediately and in a way that the audience can understand regardless of their own knowledge of the real Diana.

There is an argument to be made against this film, that it is fictionalizing the struggles of a real person and that it's insulting to her memory. I don't buy into that personally though, I think it's done very respectfully. It's quite obvious when this is going into places of fantasy as a way to better represent her anxiety and the burden of expectations placed upon her. The dinner scene with the soup, the pearls, and Anne Boleyn I think shows that perfectly. When this film decides to make those choices it does so deliberately and purposefully. The picks up and becomes so intense and almost oppressive, the shots become closer and camerawork a bit frenzied. As the audience we understand that this is fiction and is a representation of inner turmoil and external pressures.

To touch on the score briefly I'll just say this, Jonny Greenwood creates an all time great score here. It could not be a better accompaniment to this film, it could not work any better than it does or be more perfect. I have mentioned anxiety several times in this review already, and Greenwood creates that and amplifies it in a way that I have not heard or felt in many other films to this level. Utterly fantastic and terrific.

I know I sing Stewart's praises over and over for this, but truly the entire cast in this is wonderful. Timothy Spall at times feels like an "enemy" but also has a slight sympathetic undertone as Major Gregory. Sally Hawkins is able to provide some comfort as Maggie and Sean Harris is perfect as the kind chef just trying to look out for Diana. The children cast for William and Harry have excellent chemistry with Stewart which helps make their scenes together some of the best of the film and the most heartwarming.

The cinematography, the editing, and production design are all great. This is one of those movies where everything in all departments is executed both with excellence and also in harmony with all other aspects. This is a masterpiece and one of the best films of the last 10 years. If you haven't seen this yet you're really missing out.

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