Tagline: Every fairy tale ends.
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
Runtime: 117Plot: During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.
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.