“I watch, so that others do not see.”
Pablo Larraín directs a devastating portrait of Princess Diana in the desperation to be herself. He carefully draws upon the course of three heavy days at Sandringham, capturing the devastating brink of a breakdown. Larraín’s directing debuts usually feature an emotion-centric construction of the life of its subjects and their obstacles, Jackie especially. While holding thematic similarities to Jackie, in exploring a private breakdown sadly captured through the public eye, this delicate piece only excels this previous character study. Subtly and emotion at the forefront, Spencer and its haunting soundtrack explores thoughts and state of mind, rather than actions and repetitive storytelling. Storytelling of known events is merely brushed upon, leaving a mesmerising piece of untold emotion and heartbreaking hysteria. It paints Diana as a real person, not a figure.
Stewart delivers her most plausible role to date; convincingly graceful, oozing grit and personality. Wouldn’t be surprising if this bags her a sparkly well-earned Oscar, or a nomination at least – she outshone herself here with subtly and grace in this breakthrough role. Likewise, Sally Hawkins was impeccably natural as Maggie, Diana’s maid and close friend – makes you consider, was it improvisation? Their chemistry especially takes off and lets you as a viewer, get lost in Diana’s moments and appreciate the storytelling with Diana’s brief moments of love and friendship. Meanwhile, Jack Farthing’s portrayal of Charles is met with objectivity – a lot is left to the imagination and to be pieced together with your own interpretation, though we are presented with sharp, cold instances of his personality, causing much frustration and turmoil to Diana. The piece therefore does not focus on him, leaving significant (and much needed) room to explore Diana.
Spencer makes you feel again. It makes you remember what it’s like to fall in love with a film. And that’s what makes it a charming masterpiece. Its stunning cinematography captures each detail and emotion with a sharp eye; a genuine nod to Diana without all the melodrama and typically repetitive, unbearable storytelling of the Royals.