Set in 1991, Spencer follows Diana during her stay with the Royal Family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England. As the film opens, we gain a great understanding of Diana, including her general thoughts relating to the family and her current challenges in life. It’s Christmas weekend, and it’s evident that Diana does not look forward to being surrounded by the Royal Family or near her husband, Charles. She despises the Royal Family’s strict rules and traditions. Diana is suffering mentally and trying to deal with everything around her at this point in her life. The question is, can she cope for three days with the Royal Family and move forward personally before it’s too late?
For those who are not aware, Spencer is, in fact, based on events surrounding the Royal Family from Diana’s perspective. The prime focus is on Diana as she spends the weekend with the family over Christmas and Boxing Day. Here, viewers will not only feel like they are getting an insight into the Royal Family, but they will also experience various visions, dream sequences and dark thoughts from Diana herself. These moments can be unsettling and even tense to experience.
Actress Kristen Stewart delivers what I deem as her greatest performance to date. She is breathtaking and highly convincing as Diana. Side performances are also great, including Timothy Spall as Major Alistar Gregory and Sean Harris as Darren, the head chef, who both have memorable and touching interactions with Diana during her weekend stay.
Pacing here, for the most part, is wonderful. This is thanks to the wonderful acting and the amazing cinematography. The film is packed with beautiful shots of leading characters and the Royal Family’s home. The costumes and makeup are also top-notch and deserve high praise. While Diana’s dream sequences are welcomed, some sequences feel slightly vague and more up to the viewer’s interpretation, especially within key moments of the third act. The opening is also a little slow to begin with, but again, due to its solid visuals, it’s still a pleasure to witness, thanks to the work from director Pablo Larrain.
Overall, actress Kristen Stewart is incredible with her performance and has delivered something highly new and unforgettable. She is easily the biggest strength of the film right from the start. Spencer is visually refreshing and pleasing to watch. The film itself is a great experience, and it delivers moments of drama, feel-good comedy and even slight vibes of horror. While I respect this film isn’t going to please everyone; personally, there is so much goodness on display here. Spencer is a film that has truly exceeded my original expectation.