Spencer ★★★★★

To think that I’m more excited for this film in a marvel film really makes it a very interesting year. I’ve been keeping an eye on this director ever since Pablo Larraín directed my favorite performance from Natalie Portman in Jackie, and seeing that he wanted to tackle another biopic, but instead is distributed by NEON of all studios, made me even more curious. It also doesn’t help the fact that I was immediately sold on the trailers alone that got me curious, only because of the presentation being off-putting, looking different from your typical biopic film. That, and I didn’t know anything about Princess Diana other then the fact that she’s rebellious and is well-loved by everybody, but when my mom told me more information about her, it got me more curious to see if the film was going to tackle that. 

So at first, there were plans on me going to see Eternals first with my mom then go see Spencer with her as well, but due to scheduling issues from work, going to see my sister, and attending musical rehearsals, we end up seeing this one instead. As my mom is getting herself more and more familiarized with the films that I typically watch, all she kept saying from those films after she finished them is this, “Well that was different.” I was just over here after Spencer like, “WOW! I mean, wow! I figured the film might be like that from what people told me, but I didn’t think the film was THIS dense to watch!”

How they managed to make the film look this beautiful, and so colorless at the same time is quite astounding to me. The way the film was shot made the Royal Family Mansion look so grand and lively, but everything else around it looks so colorless, empty, and distant. It also doesn’t help the fact that there’s barely anyone going outside as people are worried about the paparazzi filming everything. The score by Jonny Greenwood is on an immaculate level as it helps build upon that atmosphere that really makes for a claustrophobic horror film, even though nothing scary has happened that’s in your face or anything conventional like that.

The casting for this film is 100% on point here. Even though Jack Farthing is not in it that much or has any lines to say, he has so much to offer that you really get a sense of what his character is like as he plays Charles, Prince of Wales that is, well in an essential sense, a coward. He goes everything by the traditional ways that are not very comforting to Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) herself. Sean Harris plays the top chef for the royal family, and it’s a nice change of pace to see him not play a villain for once and play a bit of a supporting role for Kristen Stewart. Although I will say that it still gives you that type of uncertainty towards the character that makes it completely understandable of Princess Diana being scared about “being watched”, or saying that they’re “being heard”. Cause it seems that in this location that the film is being taken place in, nothing is sacred here.

Speaking of Princess Diana, not only did Pablo Larraín make the best out of Natalie Portman’s performance in Jackie, but he also let Kristen Stewart not only gives herself the best performance out of her career as of now but also the best performance I’ve seen of this year. She gave such a multi-layered performance out of Princess Diana that you got to know her very easily at the beginning based on her persona, but you very much got to know her personally for what she went through in the Royal Family mansion. It does seem like the typical formula at first of someone going through the descent of madness, but it’s much more then that as Pablo and writer Steven Knight do an amazing job of her going through the hero’s journey of just dealing with the Royal Family that really makes you root for her character very easily. It also gives you a lot of dramatic depth over what she’s going through in an internal mindset. It’s just insane that the film managed to do a lot, but it never became overbearing in terms of its portrayal of eating disorders, claustrophobia, the dangers of being photogenic, feeling like a prisoner in a way, and dealing with the changed lifestyle of being in a very old-fashioned, to a fault, strict fashion. It also makes it very empowering for her to go through all of that, and still try to come out strong when not bowing down to the Royal Family’s needs.

I haven’t seen a performance from Timothy Spall this scary in like, honestly, never. At first, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was because he just seemed like a typical kind of character that makes a fuss about anything that Princess Diana does that seems a bit rebellious. But as the film progresses, you start to feel his presence that honestly could be one of those characters that have the whole “silent but deadly” mindset that can easily not go well for Diana’s well-being. He pretty much is like Michael Myers because he’s just that silent and can easily mentally gaslight the fuck out of Diana that makes her feel even more of an outsider. It also really makes for a fucked-up intentional casting choice for Kristen Stewart to be the only American actor in the film that’s surrounded by English and Scotish actors to get the feel of being an outsider herself. It also makes it great as well because she stands out not only from her persona, but the clothing as well. The costumes are also something as well because with the clothing Diana is wearing, it’s also a way of her rebellious persona, while also bring a bit of poppy colors to the family that’s distant, and not even close as poppy with the clothes being colorless. Even the portrayal of the weather in the film is interesting as well because it very much represent the Royal Family being so cold and bitter towards Diana for her actions.

When it got to the last act, it honestly gave quite a revolution of a character arc for Diana Spencer that made the best usage of the pearl necklace that I’ve seen in a film. It’s such an amazing scene because there are just so many interpretations of how it’s represented for it that I’m sure would work very well for the whole context of what led up to this scene. As for me from an analytical perspective, I see the whole story of this as Kristen Stewart finally getting the recognition that she deserves after being known for Bella Swan in Twilight for so long. The Royal Family can be represented as her old agents or just reminders of the ideal that she can only be known as Twilight, and nothing else. The people who take pictures of her can be the Twilight fanbase who still remembers Kristen Stewart, but haven’t seen any other films from her filmography. The rebellious aspects she does in the film can very much be her doing some roles in small films that caught the critics’ attention of her, but it hasn’t been “that performance” for her to get this much attention. So with the pearls and the scene right afterward, it’s a way for Kristen Stewart to finally be free from only being known as Bella Swan and instead be known for other roles instead like Spencer that stand out the most. I mean she said that in her first week of filming, she felt free and alive when portraying as Diana, and I think that says a lot from her career. Spencer is one of my favorite films that I would love to dive more into it with some spoilers on a second rewatch. Such a dense film that gives a tour-de-force performance from Kristen Stewart that blows any type of expectations out of the water.

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