SPENCER (2021)

Directed By: Pablo Larrain
Written By: Steven Knight 
Cinematography: Claire Mathon 
Editor: Sebastian Sepulveda 

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, Sean Harris, Jack Farthing, Laura Benson, Wendy Patterson 

During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana Spencer, struggling with mental health problems, decides to end her decade-long marriage to Prince Charles.

I will admit this isn’t usually my type of film or the type I will run to, but I am glad I watched this film as I am a fan of director Pablo Larrain and his movies. Though not really that invested in the Royal family.  This is the second film about them that I find myself surprised by how engrossed I am by films about them.

Deep down this film is about exploring being trapped in your own fame. That you knew might be coming but not the amount of scrutiny. Especially when the people who are supposed to be in this with you. Have decided to freeze you out also but expect you to represent them in your behavior.

As throughout, the film feels like a suspense-filled horror film. Where she is constantly under attack and wondering if each action is an attack. As we watch a woman trapped in everything: a marriage, a family, a palace, where everyone seems against her including the help.

So that even when seeming to have it all. The riches, the family, the fame still has their own fair share of problems, especially when it comes to a historic reign of a particular kingdom and family. Where she can never go back to when it was quite so simple. As of now she is ruled and trapped inside a kingdom. Where there is constant talk of survival. 

Where no matter what she does it is never quite good enough. So that she begins to rebel and seems punished even more for it. So we watch the character of Princess Diana breaking down. 

Kristen Stewart comes off as very theatrical at first. Where one doesn’t know if that is her playing character or her instincts. As she always comes off as performing more. Though eventually, she comes into her own. Not to mention those who knew Princess Diana say her performance is spot on. 

She looks photogenic throughout like a model. Though I have to say this is one of her best performances. As she comes into her own, especially in the second half of the film. The more off-center she is the stronger the performance gets. Fighting against no matter how much they try to contain her 

At first, that seems what the film will be built around but as it goes along. The film develops not only into a character piece, But a psychological thriller, a location horror film, and a diabolical thriller all in one that is very symbolic. As it also exposes the tradition of even the help and the standard they are held to. 

The film seems more structured, but free to experiment more than the director Pablo Larrian’s Previous biofilm of a real-life character at a particular point in their life that lets them reflect on their life and legacy at a crucial time in the film JACKIE about Jackie Onassis. 

Though based on real-life characters it’s still surprising when other recognizable actors pop up in supporting roles. They are impressive but jarring as it partially takes you out of the film. Luckily, they play the help. Where we as an audience can’t compare to faceless counterparts. 

The film sets an atmosphere and tone. While also showing immaculately designed production and camera shots. As the film is artistically filmed to be personal and yet as beautiful as a perfume ad that feels like the inside of a fashion shoot. 

Grade: A-

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