Spencer (2021) Film Review

Rating 12a
Length 1h56
Release 5.11.2021
Director Pablo Larrain
About The marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles has long since grown cold. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the queen’s estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game, but this year, things will be profoundly different.
Moon: Full moon at 1h 23
Where to Watch: Most cinemas now

The Good

  • It is a visually stunning film. Particularly the establishing shots and those that keep Diana at a distance from the audience. There’s an overhead shot of the grounds near the beginning when Diana arrives, I would happily have that on my wall. You know, if I didn’t loath this film.
    There’s also the opening pheasant drive-by that really had my stomach churning. How they managed to set it up where none of those army trucks made the poor thing go ‘splat’, I’ll never know. Although, if it did, it might have lightened the mood just a tad.
  • The costume department really do deserve at least award nominations. The attention to detail is incredible. The same can be said for set design.
  • On the most part, Kristen Stewart does well. Yes, I suspect she will be nominated for the Oscar. Depending on who she’s up against, I’m pretty certain she’ll win.
  • I was quite intrigued by Diana identifying with Ann Boleyn and the imagery that came along with it. I’d never thought about it before and the similarities. To someone who was suffering from mental ill health, it would be something heavy to carry.
  • Sean Harris was incredible. It took me a moment to work out who he was, but it was lovely to see him in a role that wasn’t him being a creep or a bad guy. Give me a film of him playing that chef and I’m there. There was just something calming about his presence in this storm of chaos.

The Bad

  • My problem with Kristen Stewart’s performance was that there wasn’t the range I was expecting and, in all honesty, the role was rather safe for her. Outside of perfecting the accent, the mannerisms and awkwardness is nothing I haven’t seen from Stewart before. Even the scene in which Diana is in the public, the audience are given the internalised performance.
    Honestly, I don’t think Stewart would have the ability to give us the public persona of Diana, and that really is the shame… and why I don’t think she deserves the awards.
  • The film has certain expectations of the audience and it will put off those who aren’t well versed in the life and times of the Royal Family. Perhaps the film wanted me to go away and look up about Diana in the aftermath of this Oscar bait. However, a better film would appeal to both the well versed and the newbie.
  • One of those aspects was indeed the self-harm. Fuck me, that was so badly handled. Both the bulimia (which for this film I’m going to consider a form of self-harm) and the cutting. The biggest problem being that in an artsy film, it’s hard not to see these moments as gratuitous and lacking the monumental impact this has on the individual.
    When it came to the cutting, I saw red. Okay, on the screen but also emotionally. Diana has a known history of self-harm through cutting. Yet the film chooses to have her cut her unblemished arm? Then, a scene later it is gone. Which is fine (it isn’t really), but in a film that has Diana hallucinating are you wanting the audience to believe she imagined herself cutting?!
  • I love Timothy Spall, so I mean no offense to him personally, but what the actual fuck?! His character was weird. Weirder than when he was Wormtail, and that’s saying something. His character, along with other artist choices, drove the film into horror territory.

The Ugly

  • This film is a try-hard. It spends too much time being Oscar bait, to actually think about the audience and how they would see the film. The story suffers as a result, and when the film is about real people, that’s all the more devastating.
  • Speaking of the audience. Who was this film for? Did the director think about the audience, at all? I mean, from my perspective it alienated Royalist, Diana loyalist and even film fans like myself. So… who is left?!
  • Did you really have to have Diana’s first clear word spoken be ‘fuck’? What was the purpose of that; shock value? It just felt really cheap and the perfect way to alienate the audience. The only people who are going to bought by that are those who have absolutely no intention of seeing this film.

Final Thoughts

Too artsy and bollocks for my liking. Diana’s mental ill health was not shown in a compassionate or concise way. So of course its going to win all the awards.

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