Despite being a biopic, the movie doesn’t feel like one
Spencer is Hollywood’s latest take on the late Princess of Wales, Diana Spencer. However, the movie cannot be called a biopic. Mainly because the story spans just three days in Diana and the royal family’s lives.
The film starts on Christmas Eve, and takes you to Sandringham, a manor in the Norfolk countryside. A grim royal family is gathered, but the family’s resident troublemaker is not present.
No clear timeline
Diana, played by the brilliant Kristen Stewart, has jumped the fence yet again, and has driven away from London on her own, without any security. She is seen arriving many hours later, and the situation can be defined by the old proverb, “entering the lion’s den.”
Spencer highlights the beginning of the darkest chapter in the late princess’s life, and her marriage has started going downhill. One thing that should be pointed out is there is no proper usage of timelines. Both director Pablo Larraín and screenwriter Steven Knight trusts the audience in knowing just about everything about this chapter. We are still discussing Diana, even if its been 24 years since we lost her. Some may think we have already seen too much.
But this gives Larraín and Knight free reign of telling the story they want, and not follow guidelines that biopics usually follow.
An outnumbered royal
Spencer walks the line between quality art and tabloid trash. It shows a person’s claustrophobia kick in, after being surrounded by enemies throughout the day.
We see Diana getting increasingly depressed and isolated as the movie progresses, but at the same time rebelling against the people trying to suppress her. She refuses to meet her in-laws or wear dresses that a royal family member is supposed to wear.
Since we see things from her perspective, it’s clear that Diana is hopelessly outnumbered. On the contrary, she is loved by the citizens of her nation. Her beauty, her warmth, and the humanity that just cannot be tied down was admired by all who had seen her out and about.
The role seems apt for Stewart, who has been true to herself in public, with recent roles being ones that shaded celebrities. It’s not just Diana’s mannerisms that she captured. She also displayed how fame can trap the famous, and how gossips can hurt them. Diana has moments of anger, spite, and self-pity, but her compassion remains above everything else.
Supporting cast get very little screen time, even even Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) and the queen (Stella Gonet). Most of Diana’s interactions are with her allies inside, mainly her hairdresser Maggie, played by the lovely Sally Hawkins.
Once again, the movie isn’t a biopic. Spencer a bittersweet fairy tale that is long past its happily ever after.