Spencer ★★★★

With Spencer, Pablo Larraín seeks to peel back the layers of the late Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart), during a Christmas holiday where she is at the point in the royal relationship where things begin to disintegrate.

Those looking for Downtown Abbey, steer clear. This decadent fairytale is the definition of an atmospheric film. Larraín coupled by Stewart’s performance, slowly immerse the audience into the soul of a woman with a dissolving mental state, and who has slowly lost parts of herself over the years trying to live up to the expectations that come with being a part of the Royal family. Each component of this film works together harmoniously to paint this portrait.

The score by the composer, Jonny Greenwood, is perturbing, keeping the audience anxious and uneasy throughout. Moments of Jonny’s score reminded me of Jon Brion’s in Punch-Drunk Love, whose character also deals with anxiety. The production design is brilliant and is perfect to represent the figurative (and at a point, quite literal) gilded cage that Diana finds herself in. As we would come to expect with any biopic of the late princess, the costume design is also excellent, helping reinforce Diana’s individuality from the Royal Family, often wearing solid and bold colors that stand out against the more restrained color palette of the Royal Family. The scene at the family mass is my favorite example of costume design in this film.

My favorite scene by far though is the fashion flashback montage that happens at the climax of this film. Up to that point in the film, everyone has countered every action Diana has taken, and finally, in this moment of reflection and realization, she finally breaks through the gilded cage representing the standards the Royal Family and society have placed on her. It’s a cathartic moment not only for the princess but for the audience as well, as Larraín allows us to finally escape the unsettling ambiance, if only for a bit, he had created from the beginning of this film.

Spencer is a deeply metaphorical film that won’t be for everyone. However, if you are patient with Larraín, you will be rewarded with a hauntingly beautiful film that examines the societal pressures placed on women who are constantly in the public eye.

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