Spencer

Spencer ★★★½

Spencer's brilliance doesn't quite match its insane hype, but it's definitely an experience with good aftertaste, a great showcase for Kristen Stewart's acting chops, and a necessary turnaround of my perception towards Pablo Larraín, since The Club and Ema are two of my least favorite movies ever.

Chronicling princess Diana's stay at the royal family house during the height of her affair and divorce rumors, Spencer is a fictionalized, meticulous character study of Diana, or shall we say Spencer's mental struggles against a stone-cold, rigid system of the royal family that's simply unfriendly to women in general. The stiff royal family antics, expensive costumes and lush meals are presented in Larraín's reserved, pensive shots, with a transformative, sympathetic performance from Stewart in her most vulnerable form at the very center.

At the same time, Spencer is also an experience that requires some form of patience for one to get fully immersed into its delicate, at times self-indulgent world. It's full on magical when the story gains its momentum, especially during the last 20 minutes or so where the narrative gets its adrenaline shots and comes back to life, but there are definitely lots of moments where the narrative feels stuck in its endless buildup, and neither Larraín nor Stewart has the answer for that, and that's when the bad deja vu of The Club and Ema comes back to bite. Overall, however, Spencer is for me Larraín's best work I've seen so far, and a worthwhile experience to sit through. Recommended.

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