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Spencer (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)

by Amari

While at times excruciatingly dull, Kristen Stewart’s transformation, paired with the psychological aspect of being a public figure who is isolated and controlled, saves Spencer.


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Director(s)Pablo Larrain
Screenplay BySteven Knight
Date Released10/24/2021
Where To WatchFilm Festival (Montclair Film Festival)
Genre(s)Drama, Biopic, Holiday, Family, Historical
Duration1 Hour, 51 Minutes
Content RatingR
Noted Cast
DianaKristen Stewart
Anne BoelynAmy Manson
MaggieSally Hawkins

Film Summary

It’s Christmas 1991, and at this point, Diana is flailing in her marriage and seemingly barely holding onto her sanity. She thinks she’ll be killed to make room for Camilla, and the ghost of Anne Boleyn haunts her like a premonition. Which, with no one to turn to that she can trust, as her royal dresser, Maggie, is sent away, it seems like this could be the end for the once famed princess.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing, self-harm, depiction of an eating disorder, and partial nudity.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

You are your own weapon. Don’t cut it into pieces.
— Maggie

Review

Highlights

Kristen Stewart

Diana (Kristen Stewart) looking at the camera, with light behind her

Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in SPENCER. Photo by Pablo Larrain

It’s easy to forget that Stewart does have the ability to turn down that edge she has become known for, that sense of kicking ass and taking names, and can play vulnerable. We saw it in Café Society, and as Princess Diana, it is in full display here. Sometimes in the form of Diana’s psyche crumbling and her having hallucinations. Other times it is through seeing Diana fight for some sense of autonomy while trying to not make a scene, yet so badly wanting to make her voice heard. The pull and push of it all helps you understand every neurosis, every odd moment, and Stewart’s Diana being far more dramatic than some may remember, especially if Diana’s peak in popularity came when you were a child.

But, perhaps the best thing about Stewart as Diana is that you don’t see her. For too many actors, it is them playing a character instead of you getting lost in the character. Now, this isn’t to say Stewart’s posture isn’t there, but with her forced far away from her comfort zone, her usual tricks are set aside. Even in terms of showing how frustrated, borderline lifeless Diana feels her life is at times, you don’t get the look we’ve seen Stewart give in past roles. There is an effort here that reminds you an actor will take a part seriously if appropriately challenged and if there are expectations beyond finishing the film.

On The Fence

The Psychological Drama Both Saves The Movie & Leads You To Question Its Legitimacy

As time goes on, and the strings play, and you get a sense that this is a period drama, Spencer begins to wear out its welcome and make you wonder when it will end? Heck, when one day becomes the next, you are thankful that there is some kind of sign this could be over soon.

But, as Diana begins to unravel, and you watch the royal family tighten its grip on her life, the film’s tone changes. From then on, the film transforms from a tiresome period drama to a psychological drama. One that may not pick up the pace but at the very least uses the powers of the royal family as some kind of boogeyman. The kind which makes Diana’s paranoia, need for escape, or even desire to cling to her children engaging, and even making you wonder, considering how Meghan Markle and Prince Harry left the royal family, how much of this historical fiction might be true?

For really, the artistic license used here can either be seen as a means to liven things up or really explore the possible detriment of being forced to adhere to traditions that are disagreeable to you. Especially when those who enforce it are more than willing to make your life miserable for either questioning the traditions or outright ignoring them. But, no matter how much you can understand why Diana would do this or react this way, there is a constant desire to look up what is true and could be backed up, and what was potentially just for your entertainment?

Overall

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

I certainly wouldn’t say I’d watch this twice, for this is a one-and-done movie. However, you can see the core point, through Princess Diana, is that fame and fortune can easily make you a caged canary. One whose song and beauty is touted around and put on display until it squawks too much, is too loud, and misbehaves. Then, it is covered, controlled, and stressed out until it begins picking away at itself, for its lack of control is unnerving.

And it is the psychological aspects of Stewart’s portrayal of Diana that leads to the worth seeing label. Otherwise, this would purely be an awards bait film that would likely have its audience but have very little value beyond the circles who wouldn’t have to pay to see this film.

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

Ratings

  • Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.

Movie Poster - Spencer (2021)
Spencer (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Those who not only like historical fiction but also the dark side of fame and fortune. Especially watching a known figure's potential handling of losing control of their life and who they see themselves as.
Highlights
Kristen Stewart
Disputable
The Psychological Drama Both Saves The Movie & Leads You To Question Its Legitimacy
82

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