Spencer ★★½

A film I was so desperate to immerse myself in but couldn’t due to elements that should’ve worked in its favor. Spencer’s magical realism was supposed to be a portal into Princess Diana’s psyche, instead it applies fog to the central plot and makes it a story of her losing her marbles (in a way, quite literally) when the strongest parts of the film were her playing with her young sons at the time, Prince William and Prince Harry. Similar to Jackie, the film’s lead performance is excellent, as Kristen Stewart absolutely makes this worth a watch, her mannerisms and voice damn near matching the late Princess of Wales.

My issue with this characterization, and I know this isn’t a biopic but rather a fever dream (in my eyes a nightmare) of a sad period in Diana’s life, is that she doesn’t seem like a warm presence at any dinner to begin with. Sure the royal family mistreated her, especially Prince Charles, but she comes across as completely dysfunctional rather than a quiet princess plagued by health issues and societal pressures, which seems to be a persona that film gets behind but loses focus of. The film’s continual pursuit in capturing the character’s frame of mind honestly evoked Green Knight level symbolisms, with bizarre dream-like sequences being given little explanation and meant to unnecessarily lengthen the journey. Ugh.

Another similarity to Jackie is how far it’s willing to meander for a pretty shot or take that goes nowhere, as well as a repetition that makes the whole journey feel squandered. As an audience member, it felt I was waiting for the film to return to its bread and butter, which was Diana and her sons and her with Sally Hawkins’ character, an actress who’s always superb. There seems to be a shadow in the form of The Crown that looms over this picture, unfairly so, but I couldn’t help but compare it to season 4, which completely immersed me into Diana’s side of the story as well as made Charles and the rest of the family feel like humans rather than statues. I was also disappointed that Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” so brilliantly placed in the trailer, was not featured here.

2021 Ranked

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