Spencer movie review

Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana is moving, gripping and captivating.

“Spencer” follows Diana as she visits Queen’s Sandringham estate for Christmas in 1991, following the affair between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

Above all, “Spencer” is a character study of an emotionally fractured Diana, a Diana on the brink of breaking the chains she has dragged by her side. It’s a three-day snapshot of a moment in time. Long, slow tracking shots literally follow the princess’s every move as she walks around the estate, and the music (by Jonny Greenwood) vibrates and buzzes with her movements.

At times, the bubbly score mimics the sounds of a band warming up, each instrument existing in its own world and ignoring its companions, creating some truly unsettling scenes – in the best way.

Kristen Stewart can’t completely escape Kristen Stewart’s looks, but the simplicity of her physical transformation into Diana is perhaps what’s most impressive about her portrayal – a blonde wig and signature Diana fashion are everything. enough to make you believe it’s Diana you’re seeing here – no facial prosthetics or costume makeup required. Of course, playing the role isn’t all about her looks, and Diana’s mannerisms and tone of voice are iconic.

Fortunately, Kristen excels in both areas. It’s a moving performance, and she manages to be compelling enough in both the calm, collected woman seen by the audience, as well as the slightly manic, mind-bending Diana seen in this movie, a woman with an edge that seems unpredictable. .

Other standout performances include Sally Hawkins as Royal Dresser, Maggie – a warm comfort to behold whenever she appears on screen – and Timothy Spall as Equerry Major Alistair Gregory – beautifully downplaying his concern for the princess as he watches her over the three days.

The 16mm/35mm film on which “Spencer” is shot captures the essence of the era – each scene is haze-tinged and slightly muted. Most effective here are the photos of the Sandringham Estate grounds – truly breathtaking. It’s the attention to detail that makes a difference in the experience as a viewer, and something that adds flavor and a sense of realism to the final product.

From performances and sets, to fashion and beautiful cinematic decisions, “Spencer” is a work of art made up of a series of moving and delicate vignettes. Kristen Stewart’s performance proves – especially to those who may not be familiar with her work outside of “Twilight” – that she’s got something really special, and she’s just getting started.

★★★★☆ ½.

‘Spencer’ hits theaters Jan. 20.

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