Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
A riveting look into the tormented mindset of the people's princess ... in this fable of a true tragedy.
"For the good of the country ... Of the country? ... Yes, the people. Because they don't want us to be people. That's how it is. I'm sorry, I thought you knew. So please, stick to the list as it is written, in the order that it is written."
Wow, Director Pablo Larraín is sure developing a knack for making incredible films about historical women in crisis. In Spencer
Kristen Stewart disappears into the role of Diana Princess of Wales, as we get a taste of the confinement and ridicule she is said to have experienced leading up to her escape from the regimented life of the British Royal Family.
"I'm a magnet for madness. Other people's madness."
(Quick Hits) ... Spoilers:
- I have always been a person that is mostly respectful of authority, and does not like to 'shake the boat'. So on the surface you can see both sides of this conflict, of how the royals grow increasingly aggravated by Diana now refusing to conform to their ways
- The brilliance of the film is fueled by the emotional turmoil that we are quickly drawn into with Diana being trapped and surrounded by this cold and sterile existence. Her struggles as the puppet wife of Prince Charles then manifest in relatable struggles including an eating disorder and psychosis
- The eerie mood of Spencer is further enhanced by Jonny Greenwood's always great and dynamic musical score
- I have said it countless times before, but it is the case once again here that the visual mood and direction of this film feel inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'. Just look at that scene that follows Diana through the corridors of the mansion leading up to the kitchen
- Plus all those gorgeous wide shots that truck to the side, including the masterful one of Diana walking along some water with the shot being split by the reflection of the water at the bottom
- The hallucinations she experiences do a great job of intensifying the dread and humiliation of all the judgemental eyes and ears all around her. My favorite scene had to be when she does confront her husband ... only to be accused of being unfaithful, while he carelessly goes on with his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles
- The parallels made to Anne Boleyn were a clever way of not only bringing Diana's strained position into context, but also the history of subjugation for those brought into the Royal Highnesses' inner circle
"Tell them I'm not well!"
- Diana's only reprieve comes from her children who can tell she is not well, as she attempts to block them from forced family traditions. She also has her most trusted personal assistant Maggie, who shares a touching surprise with Diana at the end
- It is lovely to see the contrasts in those scene, where Diana is free to be calm and happy
- Pablo Larraín's excellent stylistic touches culminate into an emotional stream of consciousness montage of Diana having moments of internal peace throughout her life leading up to this point, which finally gives her the courage to make her final stand
As a fan of both history and stylistic filmmaking, I am so intrigued to catch up on more of Pablo Larraín's work, since I am loving his dedicated exploration of these themes involving dark moments in the lives of powerful women.
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... Skål! 🍻