If you’re expecting a classic biopic from Spencer, you will be disappointed. This is a much more subdued and artistic movie powered by Kristen Stewart’s magnificent performance. First of all, I would like to say fuck the royal family. Fuck everything they stand for and their fucking rules. This was my opinion before and after “the Diana story”. It’s the fucking 21st century can we move away from these archaic structures? Fucking old money passed down from generation to generation. And this fucking notion that this is “something that people want”. Even if it is true, which it isn’t, then fucking educate those people about why it is wrong to want that. I should stop here before I get all worked up about this but you know how I am with these colonial tribal structures.
Spencer mimics Diana’s situation perfectly, following the events that took place during one faithful Christmas weekend. This is a simmering, somber, and, above all, emotional movie. Especially when you know what’s going to happen in a few years. I also liked the fact they focused on just three days instead of trying to tell this huge story. It feels more personal and it’s the thing that actually made me want to check out this drama. It’s basically a character study as we get really close to Diana and her state of mind during that time. The lack of glamour and the fetishization of the royal family and events like these place the focus directly on her. This might seem like it’s too one-dimensional but I think this was their intention all along.
Still, they could have easily shaved off half an hour from this almost two-hour movie. It would help immensely with the pacing, especially during the second half of the movie. I had no idea that director Pablo Larraín already worked on some big biopics like 2016 hit Jackie following her life after the Kennedy assassination. And the script for Spencer was written by none other than Steven Knight of his Peaky Fookin Blinders glory. So, the crew behind this movie definitely knew how to create an engaging story. However, it would have been all for nothing if it wasn’t for Kristen Stewart. You can really feel that she poured her heart and soul into this role. As one of those who dismissed her after Twilight, I have been making up for that for quite some time now.
A bit pretentious and at times heavy-handed, Spencer is an okay biopic. The music was also a bit off for my taste. It’s like they were trying too hard to create something different and authentic. There’s also a lot of symbolism that I think was obscured by the main narrative and emotions. You’re really not sure whether she’s now symbolically cutting the barbed wire around her old life or literally doing that around her house. Something like that just sprouts into existence after finding the right approach and narrative. And you have to be “that person” to begin with. However, if you’re looking for your daily dose of biopics, this will do just fine. The whole vibe they were going for reminded me of a phenomenal Danish movie Festen. Or you can check out another Steven Knight movie, Pawn Sacrifice, if you’re looking to continue in the same direction.
Director: Pablo Larraín
Writer: Steven Knight
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Nielen, Freddie Spry, Sean Harris, Jack Farthing, Sally Hawkins
Fun Facts: Kristen Stewart trained for six months to perfect her accent.