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Spencer (2021)

JoeStemme

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Title: Spencer

Tagline: Every fairy tale ends.

Genre: Drama

Director: Pablo Larraín

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jack Farthing, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Sean Harris, Thomas Douglas, Olga Hellsing, Matthias Wolkowski, Oriana Gordon, Ryan Wichert, John Keogh, Amy Manson, Elizabeth Berrington, Jack Nielen, Freddie Spry, Stella Gonet, Richard Sammel, Lore Stefanek, James Harkness, Laura Benson, Wendy Patterson, Libby Rodliffe

Release: 2021-11-05

Runtime: 117

Plot: During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.

Right from the outset, a pre-credits screen card announces that SPENCER is a “Fable from a true tragedy”. Director Pablo Larrain's film (shot on 35mm & 16mm film) is fashioned around three days at Christmas 1991 where Princess Diana of Wales (nee Spencer) spends the holidays with Royal family at the Sandringham estate. Steven Knight's script plunges the viewer right into Princess Di's (Kristen Stewart) life with little background or context. It is just assumed the viewer is at least somewhat familiar with the circumstances.

Like Larrain's JACKIE, SPENCER is very much a chamber piece. Very few scenes take place anywhere else but the Monarchy's retreat. Not only is Diana on screen for virtually the entire running time, but, seemingly inside her head. Her actions, thoughts and visions surround the viewer, often from her direct POV. The soundtrack with music by Jonny Greenwood and sound design by Miguel Hormazábal seemingly swirl and spiral around you. While often brilliantly done, it also has the effect of feeling suffocating at times, intentionally so, of course, but it doesn't always make for pleasurable viewing. Knight's screenplay goes heavy on symbolism and metaphor, somewhat effective, but too often heavy-handed (the Ann Boleyn material in particular).

The film is all about Stewart, of course. Even at its most insular, the actress is able to bring the viewer into her world. Stewart commands the screen even when her character seemingly has lost control. It's a tricky balance, but Stewart brings it off. Also, benefiting her overall performance is that the film brings some lighter touches in the final act (particularly, those scenes involving her children). It gives a fuller picture to Diana as a person over and above being a Princess. While Stewart dominates the focus, extremely fine supporting work by Sally Hawkins as Diana's personal dresser, Sean Harris as the head chef, and especially the superb character actor Timothy Spall as the inscrutable head of security flesh out the picture. Jack Farthing as Prince Charles and Stella Gonet as the Queen aren't really given much opportunity to make an impact. They are simply there to service the story.

SPENCER is by no means an expansive Bio-Pic in the traditional sense. The film is moderately successful mainly due to Stewart and the main supporting cast which carries it over some major bumps in tone and approach.
 

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Colin Jacobson

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Anyone seen this? I admit I'm not terribly interested but I'm sure I'll see it eventually.

Actually, I almost saw it Tuesday. I planned to see "Eternals" IMAX but they had technical issues and told us they'd need to cancel our showing.

Since I was already at AMC - and since A-List means it's "free" for me to see whatever I want - I looked for something else to watch.

"Spencer" was the only movie my AMC had at the right time that I'd not already viewed, so I was gonna head to that screen.

However, before I could do this, they fixed the issue with "Eternals" so I saw it anyway! :D
 

Colin Jacobson

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Review above

Oops - sorry! When I glanced at the first post, I thought it was all general movie info and not an actual review!

I didn't like "Jackie" so that makes it less likely I'll like "Spencer".

I'll still see it when it hits BD but unless I encounter another screening problem like I did Tuesday, I'll skip it theatrically!
 

Colin Jacobson

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Apr 19, 2000
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I couldn't care less about Princess Diana or any of the royal family but I heard Kristen Stewart on Howard Stern last week and she (and the positive reviews) sold me on seeing it.

As I mention above, I didn't like "Jackie", and I like NP more as an actor than KS.

I'm also waaaay more interested in JFK-assassination related stuff than I am anything about the royals, so my lack of interest in the subject matter dings "Spencer" even more.

Though in a weird way, this might mean I'll be more open to "Spencer" because I have so little inherent interest in the subject matter.

If you're not that interested, ya can't be that disappointed, right? :D
 

SamT

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I give it 7/10. The music was excellent, the best part of the movie. The only negative was Kristen Stewart's accent. You could tell it's fake and it didn't help that her 2 sons for example talked with a natural accent. Also she talked in a very strange way like trying very hard to impersonate Diana, you don't have to. Talk naturally.
 

Pnochichi

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Jan 12, 2022
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Kristen Steward pushed very hard for the nominations this year. She was at more FYC events than just about anyone else, and she brought the best swag. ;) Happy to see her get a nod in the oscars just since she lobbied so hard and wanted it so bad. I can't imagine a win here, but good for her.
 
Movie information in first post provided by The Movie Database

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