A film about the late Princess of Wales, which centers around a thoroughly stressful Christmas holiday in the 1990s.
THE GOOD STUFF
-KRISTEN F****** STEWART- Truly at a loss for words. I’ve been slandering the name of Kristen Stewart with reckless abandon (and at times joyful glee) for years now. I was justified. She legitimately was HORRID in every single one of those TWILIGHT movies and in the SNOW WHITE movie. However, she has proven to be better in some of the indie movies that she did. Yet, it wasn’t impactful enough to change one’s opinion of the overall resume.
She had moments like in CLOUDS OF SIL MARIA (2014) and PERSONAL SHOPPER (2016). She followed those films with her mediocre performances in bad movies like SEBERG (2019) and HORRENDOUS performances in super awful films like CHARLIE’S ANGELS(2019) and Underwater. (January 2020) So when all the buzz comes out about how unbelievably great she is in her portrayal as the PRINCESS OF WALES, including gaining praise from people who KNEW Diana, I could only respond one way….
And now, and the year of our Lord 2021, we are living in a universe where that girl from those garbage TWILIGHT movies, the girl who rocked one facial expression for the better part of six years of doing films, is a virtual lock for an Oscar nomination.
The work she does in this movie is nothing short of astonishing.
I’ll also say that I have not watched one season of the Netflix series THE CROWN. I cannot speak to the quality of work that Emma Corrin does playing princess Diana on that show. I know she won a Golden Globe for her performance in that show too. But if I’m going to be completely honest here, I’m glad I haven’t seen her performance (and I don’t think I want to) because I don’t want anything to compare Stewart’s performance to. Stewart is that f****** outstanding in every way. I found myself shaking my head in amazement at how good she was.
–CINEMATOGRAPHY- The first thing that hits you about this movie is how absolutely idyllic every single shot is. Quite literally, all of the interior and exterior shots look exquisite. As much as Stewart is a virtual lock for an Oscar nomination, it’s hard not to imagine Claire Mathon, the cinematographer for this film, being mentioned on nomination day herself.
-THE SCORE- Jonny Greenwood has done several film scores now, and the one thing that he expertly does as much as any long-time film composer gets the mood of the scene. So within the score of this movie, he turns all of these idyllic shots of the Royal estate on the inside and out, all the shots of the luxurious clothing, and dinner buffets of Sandringham House, into a ’90s version of THE SHINING’s Overlook Hotel.
His music matches the ever-growing insanity that Stewart is portraying, almost as if she were in the sound studio with him, watching the film together as he made the music. That may have been the case as far as I’m concerned.
THE BAD STUFF
–THE ENDING- I’m going to use the word ending very loosely here. Of course, this movie technically ends, but there’s an argument to be made that it doesn’t have an ending. It just stops. The entire film builds and builds and BUILDS to something very particular that does happen in real life. Something massive. But the film never REALLY tells us what that is. It tells us that there’s a plan that she’s making to make this vast thing happen, but we don’t see the follow-through. And so I can’t help thinking that if I’m somebody in the movie theater that had never read, watched anything about, or even Wikipedia’d Princess Diana, I would be convinced that this movie is anticlimactic.
SPENCER almost expects you to know the complete story of princess Diana before seeing it, and that is understandable. But what if you don’t? It’s 2021. We’re in a time now where icons of the ’90s tend to be unknown by a certain age group. Sure, you know the name princess Diana. But to some of these youngsters out here, that doesn’t mean everyone knows the whole story. And if you’re going to make something like this about such a critical time in the life of an iconic figure, you might as well put punctuation at the end of the sentence and not an ellipsis…
THE UGLY STUFF
Honestly? Nothing. Sometimes you run across films like this that aren’t excellent, but don’t do anything upsettingly bad. That’s happened a couple of times this year. And it happens more times than you would think.
Tis the season for Oscar bait-y type flicks. I hope this is a good sign for the type of Oscar films we will get this year.
SPENCER is playing in theatres now.