Spencer movie review: Kristen Stewart is devastating as People’s Princess

Modern-day princesses hardly have a fairy tale anymore. And we don’t have just Diana to tell us, a Japanese princess recently opted out of the world’s oldest surviving monarchy and traveled halfway around the world for a wedding.

However, there’s just something about Diana that the world can’t get enough of. She shone like a star at a time when there were few people like her, and in spectacular fashion, exploded into all the public glare.

This is not what the latest discovery of the Princess of Wales (or PoW, as the movie goes on) is all about. It is about the demons who followed her where she ended up.

Poignantly and captivatingly shot by director Lorraine (Jackie), it is bathed in sadness and a growing sense of dread about a young woman on the edge. The three days from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day at Sandringham Castle in Windsor seem endless. From the kitchen and its expansive menu, to the Help’s retinue, from the table beneath the dishes to the endless aisles, from impeccably planned days to pre-determined outfits, the days drag on.

And that’s just us. Its weight on a vulnerable, bullied Diana, with a decade behind it and a life likely to last forever and ever as a face on a currency note, seems destined to crush her.

His every move is monitored, his every word is repeated to him. They suspect that she is changing clothes with open curtains, by inviting the press, and these are sewn closed. Stewart is precise and vulnerable in a devastating performance, so much so that it is with shock that we greet her with rare moments of genuine joy. They are accompanied by her sons and her only true friend in the royal household, a dresser named Maggie, who is brought to life by Sally Hawkins, despite the brevity of the role.

The Windsors themselves turn out very poorly. The People’s Princess has long overtaken him on the popularity stakes, and this film doesn’t really relate to his point of view. There is a suggestion that Charles feels particularly constrained in the household as the girl he has wooed and disappointed, but the Queen remains the “sensible” head of a monarchy that he needs.

In that respect, Spencer clearly has a one-sided view on the dynamics of power, the overarching influence of tradition, and Diana’s desire for “freedom.” Of course there are two sides to every story. In that regard, it is a fairy tale of a princess who did not want glass slippers.

Spencer Film Director: pablo loren
Spencer Film Cast: Kristen Stewart, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris
Spencer Movie Rating: 3.5 stars

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