Another Diana story that drowns out her true story
I went into “Spencer” expecting something unremarkable, and left having seen something, well, unremarkable. A well intentioned period piece, with a slightly forced psychological aspect to attempt to liven it up, gives way to the same tired perspectives and tendencies that are much better executed elsewhere (i.e. “The Crown”); simplicity and poetry quickly fades to blandness and disorder.
The movie orbits Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) during a royal Christmas gathering, post-separation from the Prince of Wales. Diana’s dreams, memories, and anxieties speckle the film with surrealism and fantasy to try and expose the psychological burden of her situation. Sadly, like other attempts at capturing the late icon, the narrative of “Spencer” remains totally isolated from the side of Diana’s story that has only barely been explored, that of her work and identity independent of the royal family.
Contrary to what I expected, or perhaps even what was intended, Kristen Stewart’s Diana starts off as rude, self-absorbed, and unlikeable. While Stewart does gradually settle into the role, with writing and acting jointly making her more sympathetic, her unconvincing appearance and manner in depicting the character is jarring, and takes away from what little “Spencer” had going for it. The greater ensemble of almost completely no-line characters struggled in much the same way, with completely disparate looks and essences from their real-life counterparts, quite in contrast to what other films and shows have been able to achieve in casting. That doesn’t mean the film was totally without quality moments of acting, though, with Timothy Spall carrying an eerie presence to the screen, and Freddie Spry as a young Prince Harry bringing a spurt of solid comedy.
Star Rating: 2.5/5
[Available at time of writing to see in theatres.]