• Chilean auteur Pablo Larraín doubles down on his passion- making films about the wives of royalty (2016’s Jackie– about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassi) with 2021’s Spencer –taken from Princess Diana’s maiden name. Spencer tracks Diana through a few days during the Christmas holidays before her sort of emancipation from the British royal family.
  • Spencer is also another feather in the cap for Kristen Stewart. Stewart, just over the age of thirty now, has put together a very decent resume that includes 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria and Certain Women in 2016.
  • Like Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, Larraín shoots this in 16mm- and this is an exceptionally radiant 16mm.
  • Larraín marvelously eschews the trappings of the traditional biopic (just like Jackie– even more so actually). He captures (with the aid of a game Stewart and Jonny Greenwood’s sublime jazzy score) Diana’s desperation and infinite sadness. There is psychological warfare between the royals, her husband (describing her as a little baby who does not get enough attention), her mother in law, and the sort of chief pit bull of the family Major Alistar Gregory played by a slim Timothy Spall. They battle over closing the curtains, what she wears, what she eats (or does not eat) and her tardiness to traditional royal family events. One wonders how much Stewart (who walks that fine line of drama queen skillfully) pulls from her own experience with the media and limelight.

one of the strongest sequences is the back and forth between Diana (a very able Kristen Stewart) and Charles (Jack Farthing) with the red billiards table creating a gulf between them

  • The costume design is from Jacqueline Durran (frequent Mike Leigh and Joe Wright period work collaborator as well as 2019’s Little Women).

One of the strongest compositions is the shot of Diana on the bathroom floor with her dress flowered out on the ground

brilliantly captured- one of the best posters in recent memory

  • Larraín sometime deploys a László Nemes-like (though nowhere near the dedication to it) shallow focus as a tool to shape the eye.
  • Diana is running through the halls as Larraín captures her in wide shots in a closely manicured and intimidating world.
  • The end result is a film that deservers artistic and thematic comparisons to Todd Haynes’ Safe (1995).
  • Must-See