Jay’s review published on Letterboxd:
A foundation of order established at the beginning. Characters following specific roles they have been ascribed to them that creates a false sense of belonging and community in a realm that thrives off of the illusion of community to maintain order and control.
A world devoid of individuality. Individuality that is looked down upon due to the insecurity of believing how a unique individuals can disrupt and reveal the flaws in one’s harmful power structure through sincerity. The past, present, and future collide. All functioning to meet the same demands of a flawed order that rebels in its hegemony. We see a family that does what it can to maintain its ghostly image that is strengthened by how their power is enhanced by a world that thrives off of fetishizing comfortable images of unity.
All of what I have mentioned is establish and presented throughout the whole runtime as we see Princess Diana. Diana to the family is a ghost of past, present and future. Someone who reminds them of a past, present, and future where individuals refuse to follow the order that maintains balances and control within a monarchy. Rather than ascribing to what they want, we see Diana navigate these constant demands of conformity by subscribing an identity of individuality that allows her to maintain both a sense of self and reality. Self and reality within an environment that cares more about using Diana as an object of power rather than caring about an individual who is struggling to maintain agency within an environment. An environment that wants to control her, but also an environment that is afraid of a woman who has a powerful presence who that will make an impact in the present and future like those before her in the past.
We follow Diana as she is constantly engaging in the act of facework. Verbal and nonverbal communication strategies that allows Diana to establish and sustain her since of self as best as she can. Through Kristin Stewart’s stairs at other characters, her gestures, her closed off body language, and what she chooses to or chooses not to disclose in interactions with other characters. Selecting who she wants to be presented as that eventually forms into a weapon of retaliation against the overwhelming tole of being in a world of monsters.
We see the constant struggle of duality within Diana’s soul as she is at odds with how much of her face-work is still genuinely her or if her individuality has finally be consumed by the hellish monarchy she is apart of. The level of cognitive dissonance that is present through the framing of each scene allows us to understand how Diana is constantly trying to maintain her desired reality. Wondering if her decisions are in line with how she wants to remain an individual or if actions and attitudes are finally giving into the homogenous expectations of hell. The consistent thought of wondering if who she truly is has finally become the ghost that people want to forget.
Spencer is an excellent film. A story about a woman refusing to let her individuality become a ghost that the family believes is haunting them in the past, present, and future as they see her individuality as a threat to their control over body autonomy and societal control. The fear of a omnipresent ghost that the family fears they can’t control. A ghost that is truly a person that reveals to the world that the life style of some prestigious family should be both rebelled against and criticized rather than idealize.
Kristin Stewart captures what it is like to feel like a ghost in a toxic environment, but also a powerful individual that refuses the concept of conformity. Consistent displays of cognitive dissonance on screen to show us an individual that truly wanted to just be loved for being an individual. Acceptance that wasn’t given, but acceptance she hopes others in the world will give each other.