Ricardo Franco’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don’t think Spencer is a particularly good movie as a whole, but Kristen Stewart delivers the best performance of the year and her career, the cinematography is some of the best we’ve seen lately, and the production design is as good as it gets.
My biggest issue with the film is the story it decides to tell. Most of Spencer is historical fiction, and I’m cool with that, but personally, I wouldn’t make Diana out to look like The Joker, but hey that’s just me.
Diana had mental health issues, but Spencer makes her out to be a borderline schizophrenic with few moments of lucidity or coherence. Instead of focusing on the things we do know Diana struggled with, Spencer turns the volume up to 11.
Now, I have no problem with historical fiction, but when you’re making a biopic about a beloved historical icon, I don’t think you should just make everything up. Spencer doesn’t just make up mental episodes that Diana didn’t have, it invents a lesbian romance, a weird subplot about an abandoned house, it makes the Windsors look incredibly reasonable, and it doesn’t gives us much context as to why Diana felt the way that she did.
I want to compliment the direction because I loved the tone and look of the film, but at the same time I hated a lot of the decisions the director made. None of the hallucinations worked for me. The Pearl eating scene came out of nowhere and felt way over the top. None of the Anne Boleyn stuff worked for me, and it was a huge part of the film. A lot of the big turning points in the film like the pheasant hunt felt ridiculously heavy handed, and the film ends on the weirdest most tonally jarring pop song needle drop I’ve ever seen.
The cinematography really is special though, every other frame could be a painting, and it’s been a really long time since I’ve said that about a film.
The production design is equally as impressive. The costumes and sets are a huge part of what makes Spencer worth watching, and the make up and hair work is also special.
The best part of this film is Kristen Stewart and it’s not even close. She delivers the best performance of the year by a wide margin, and she completely loses her self in the role. It’s funny, when the movie started I felt a little taken out of it because I was like oh this is very much Kristen Stewart, but 5 minutes in all I saw was Princess Diana. This is a transcendent performance and I have no idea how anyone takes the Oscar from her.
Spencer is worth watching just for Stewart, but the cinematography and production design also elevate this film. I wasn’t a big fan of the script however, and the film’s depiction of Diana felt cartoonish at times.