Kristen Stewart delivers the best performance of her career in this somber, imagined exploration of Princess Diana’s challenge to the royal system from Pablo Larraín.
Taking place over three days spent at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate for the Christmas holiday, Spencer explores the Princess’ mood as she deals with the fallout of her husband cheating on her and a family that is not ready to except her. Stewart expertly encapsulates the individualism and power of the late Princess Diana with remarkable accuracy, a powerhouse performance in a film flushed with talent. The film examines the many different faces expected of Princess Diana and her longing to hold on to her genuine self, never more obvious than in the depiction of her moments alone with Prince William and Prince Harry. Stewart’s spellbinding ability to carry every scene with such poise and emotional depth renders her performance one of the best of the year.
Spencer is a haunting tale, one that won’t right with everyone due to the many fictionalized aspects for which it is impossible to know where shreds of truth may exist. Larraín’s film drowns its audience in a poetic sorrow that demands empathy and continuously examines the stranglehold Princess Diana felt she was in. The film is also a call for modernization and the embracing of change in balance with tradition, most specifically for the Royal Family, but also to the world at large. By the end, I found myself absolutely enthralled with the story and smiling along with the moments of levity and joy shown. It left me wanting to know more.
Spencer hits theaters this Friday.
Photo from IMDb