Spencer

Spencer
  • 2021
  • UK / US / Germany / Chile
  • 1h 51min
  • Directed by: Pablo Larraín
  • Cast: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, Sally Hawkins

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Pablo Larraín’s sublime ‘fable from a true story’ imagines a Christmas weekend at Sandringham in the early 1990s, as an unhappy Princess Diana contemplates saying ‘no’.

As played with intoxicating perfection by Kristen Stewart, who dominates almost every scene of Spencer, Diana is dying on the vine, showing only flashes of her former effervescence. Hers is the world’s most scrutinised persona since she began living the fairy-tale life of a girl who grew up to marry a prince; in reality, her husband rather publicly loves someone else. She’s also suffocating under the expectations of total subservience to Royal protocol. Working from a beautiful script by Steven Knight, Larraín (Jackie) ingeniously depicts a world in which every polished spoon and heavy curtain, every steely stare from staff, even a seemingly ‘jolly’ Christmas tradition, expresses Her Majesty’s disapproval of the young princess. The exquisite craft of Spencer makes you want to freeze every moment. director of photography Claire Mathon (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) shoots in 4:3 ratio with a micro-universe of colour emerging from the muted environments designed by Guy Hendrix Dyas. And Jonny Greenwood illuminates Diana’s internal tussle with solo piano and strings. It’s oppressive, until it isn’t anymore. Stewart and Larraín deliver a finale that will break your heart and make it skip all at once.

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Reviews & features

Spencer

7 Oct 20215 stars

LFF 2021: Kristen Stewart gives us a full-blooded and fed-up Diana in this sublime biopic

From the moment she batted her lashes in the trailer, Kristen Stewart silenced any doubters and all but confirmed that this take on the Princess of Wales would be a Crown-style triumph rather than a Diana-level disaster. We shouldn't be surprised, not…

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