“Spencer” offers a very compelling look at Princess Diana’s state of mind a few years before her death. Of course, as with any biopic, fiction and reality are blended and it can be hard to tell how much of it is accurate. But regardless of accuracy, the movie is truly awe-inspiring. From the acting to the costumes and setting, the movie is something to behold. It captures the glamour of the royal family, and at the same time it portrays the loneliness of royal life in a way that is truly captivating.
Diana (Kristen Stewart) and Charles’ (Jack Farthing) marriage has become increasingly strained. The princess is struggling with an eating disorder, and the media and paparazzi’s constant and excessive attention is taking a toll on her mental health. Every move she makes is documented, photographed and dissected by the tabloids. At one point, she compares the camera lenses to a microscope,and she is “an insect on a dish.” She continues to say, “And they are plucking my wings and legs one by one.”
She has no privacy, and no support or love from her own husband. A free spirit, she is also burdened by the royal family’s controlling and stricts rules. When someone puts a biography of Anne Boleyn on her bed, she starts to hallucinate the dead queen. With her mental health dangerously spiraling, she struggles to cope with the reality of life as a royal.
The movie doesn’t have a lot of action — or really any. The film can feel a bit slow and long as a result. It is very much an introspective drama, focused on a specific period of time and centered only on Diana. But it is definitely powerful, and it packs a punch emotionally speaking. Fans of biopics and psychological dramas will be pleased with the film.
Moreover, Kristen Stewart is brilliant as Princess Diana. If I ever criticized her acting skills, I take it back. She captures with a lot of nuance and depth the beloved princess’ suffering.
The kids who play William and Harry are absolutely adorable, and my favorite scenes were the ones where we got to see them interact with Diana.
Charles surprisingly does not appear much in the movie, and I would have loved to have seen more of him. I think it would be really interesting to have more scenes where he interacts with Diana so we could have a closer look at their relationship.
The movie’s cinematography was extremely creative, especially for a biopic. Unlike most biopics, it actually focuses on a very specific moment. Rather than showcase various moments in the characters life, this one all takes place over maybe a week. While there is less excitement and action as a result, it allows the movie to really focus on and explore the character’s state of mind at a crucial time.
There are several montages, which were exceptionally well done, and the music complemented the visuals really well. I particularly liked the scenes where Diana had visions of Anne Boleyn. The parallel between the two was entertaining and compelling, and I love how they explored that. It really made Diana’s deteriorating mental state that much clearer.
The way they depicted her struggle with an eating disorder was also very well done. The movie didn’t try to glamourize it or downplay it. Those scenes were hard to watch but at the same time they revealed a lot about the character’s interiority. The scene where she envisions herself tearing out the pearl necklace and devouring the soup with the pearls in it was brilliant. I also loved the parallel with the last scene, where she sits on the scale and has Harry and William sit on her lap. Not only was it fun and heartwarming, it also marked a change in her character development. Earlier, we saw her get weighed on her own, and then force herself to throw up. But at the end of the movie, she realizes that she has people who love her. She weighs herself with William and Harry, showing she is not alone and renders the scale useless.
Although heavy and sad at the same time, personally, I thought the movie was brilliant. Perhaps especially so because we know exactly what’s going to happen to the princess. But it is still a really engaging movie. Fans of royal intrigue and psychological dramas will love this one.
“Spencer” is now showing in theaters.
By Alice Braga