Spencer ★★★★★

"I am the insect in the dish. You see, they're pulling my wings and my legs off. One by one. Making notes on how I react. "Oh, she does really makes a fuss this one, doesn't she? She's not like Anne Boleyn, who offered her head to the tweezers with such grace." - Diana

The moment Pablo Larrain's next project was announced I was Immediately intrigued. Even more so when I realized my favorite Actress of all-time was not only attached to his latest work, but the lead as well. Coming hot off the heals of his critically acclaimed 2016 biopic Jackie and 2019 cult favorite Ema. There was nothing but excitement towards 2021's 'Spencer'. Telling a fabled tale about one of the world's most beloved and famous celebrities, Princess Diana Frances Spencer.

Taking place during a 3 day Christmas Holiday span in the 1990s. With rumors of infidelity and divorce, we watch as Diana reluctantly makes her way towards the royal family's holiday estate to par take in centuries old traditions. She's expected to follow a very strict and formal regimen once she arrives during those 3 days. Consisting of everything from what to wear and when to wear it. What to eat and when to eat it. And even when to partake in pre-established festive events and activities. Struggling with not only her current marital problems, but dodging the paparazzi, finding the energy to keep up appearances, and attempting to find true solace.

Constantly being judged and watched by everyone around her, not just the paparazzi. The citizens of England, the help, and even her own friends and family. Expected to simply conform for "The good of the country". Forcefully suffocated into carrying two personalities. Herself, and the Princess the world expects to see. Only truly being somewhat understood and supported by her two sons William and Harry, her friend and dresser Maggie, and Major Alistar Gregory. What follows is an absolutely stunning, yet deeply melancholy heavy biopic drama, with dashes of surprising psychological horror elements thrown in. A short and beautifully contemplative tale of a woman with unbelievable pressures, just trying to break free from it all....even if for only a moment.

To say Pablo Larrain's 'Spencer' exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. I knew what to expect as far as the quality of filmmaking goes, but what I didn't expect was the surprising direction Larrain takes into the psychological side of Diana, or just how perfect the films casting would be. As far as the production goes, the cinematography/camera work is absolutely gorgeous, shot on film, and all the better for it. Claire Mathon you are on a fucking rollllllll honey. The costume/set design is immaculate as well. The sound design and lighting is SUPERB here too. Fully immersing the viewer into the film's cold and lavish world. From the sound of every footstep across the manner, every warm, crackling fire, and beyond. To the potentially best composed score of the year by Johnny Greenwood. Potentially the esteemed composers best score to date even. As it perfectly fits each and every scene/tone throughout the film, showcasing a masterful blend of tension building classical, with delicious jazzy undertones.

However, what completely sells this wonderfully crafted piece of cinematic art, is the pre-mentioned cast and their performances. Every. Single. Cast member to grace the screen is an absolute delight here. Roll big or small, every character felt believable and well utilized. Especially Timothy Spall as Major Alistar Gregory, Sally Hawkins as Maggie, and Sean Harris as head chef Dean. Who also previously graced the screen this year as King Arthur in David Lowery's visual masterwork, The Green Knight.

And of course...the incredible, the astonishing, and dedicated Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana herself. Giving not only her best performance to date, but the best performance I've seen all year, as well as one of the best performances I've seen in my entire life. Completely losing herself here, channeling all the pressure, elegance, longing, warmth, and grief that was Diana Frances Spencer. A haunting and personal performance, between her impressive discipline with the English accent, emotionally convincing delivery of dialogue, and phenomenal use of facial expressions and mannerisms. A definition tour de force performance, that is almost guaranteed to take the prize this awards season in my opinion. An absolute must watch for any fans of the incredibly talented and (until recently) underrated actress. A performance that honestly brought me to tears by sheer power and commitment alone in the end. 'Spencer' is an instant, masterpiece of a classic as far as I'm concerned.

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