(Spencer • 2021 ‧ Drama/Historical film ‧ 1h 51m • Showtimes London, Fri 5 Nov • Sat 6 Nov • Sun 7 Nov • Mon 8 Nov • Tue 9 Nov • Wed 10 Nov • Thu 11 Nov • Curzon Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, LONDON W1D 5DY, United Kingdom, 21:00 • Curzon Mayfair, Mayfair, 38 Curzon Street, LONDON W1J 7TY, United Kingdom, 18:10 • 21:00, Curzon Bloomsbury, The Brunswick, LONDON WC1N 1AW, United Kingdom, 18:00, Curzon Victoria 58 Victoria Street, LONDON SW1E 6QW, United Kingdom, 18:40 • 21:00, Curzon Sea Containers, At Sea Containers - 20 Upper Ground, LONDON SE1 9PD, United Kingdom, 18:00 • 20:40, Curzon Camden, Dockray Place, LONDON NW1 8QD, United Kingdom, 18:00 • 21:00)
December 1991; the 'British' royal family spends the 'Christmas' holidays at their 'Sandringham Estate' in Norfolk. There's eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana (Kristin Stewart) knows the game. But this year, things will be a whole lot different. Something is rotten in Queen Elizabeth’s (Stella Gonet) 'Sandringham Estate', and it may have something to do with a tardy princess. The embers of Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) and Lady Diana’s marriage have long been extinguished and rumours are afoot about the prince's infidelities and an imminent divorce. The marriage has long since grown cold. "Spencer" follows the 'Princess Of Wales' as she navigates a precarious 'Christmas' holiday with the 'Royal Family', a moment that will set Diana on a path to independence, however tragically short-lived. The Prince’s infidelities with Camilla Parker Bowles (Emma Darwall-Smith) have become public knowledge. The fairy-tale façade of Charles and Diana’s marriage has crumbled. At 'Sandringham' tardy and alone, Diana is expected to adhere to a series of soul-draining exercises in empty propriety, routinely changing outfits and posing for photos. She savours whatever hours she can secure with her sons, William (Jack Nielen) and Harry (Freddy Spry), but her sole confidant is her personal attendant Maggie (Sally Hawkins). As Diana begins to disobey decorum, her every indulgence is tracked by a former 'Black Watch' officer Major Alister Gregory (Timothy Spall) newly employed by the 'Queen' to keep paparazzi at bay; and the 'Princess' on a tight leash.
While the astute staff finalize preparations for the 'Christmas' holiday, Diana, is nowhere to be found. Diana’s last attempts to get fresh air before succumbing to a suffocating, silent evening with her embarrassed husband and unforgiving mother-in-law will become a common disturbance for the stiff royals. It doesn’t help that Anne Boleyn (Amy Manson), a famous axed-wife of 'Henry VIII' appears to haunt the vast corridors of the estate with vague warnings of doom and gloom. Only her cherubic sons, William and Harry, and her personal dresser Maggie seem to bring the 'People’s Princess' joy anymore. As her confining surroundings squeeze out every last gasp for air, Diana must face the truth that maybe her fairytale won’t end happily ever after. But now peace must reign, as royal protocol demands. Soon, opulent dinners are being dished up, but this time without Diana’s presence. She wants to be free again, and revert to using her maiden name, Spencer. The film depicts in masterful tableaux the loneliness of a world-famous woman trapped in a gilded cage and her alienation from the influential royals. "Spencer" is an imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days.
We all grew up understanding what a fairytale is, but Diana Spencer changed the paradigm, and the idealised icons that pop culture creates, forever. This is the story of a 'Princess' who decided not to become a 'Queen', but chose to build her identity by herself. We've always been very surprised by her decision and thought it must have been very hard. That's the heart of the movie. The film explores Diana’s process, as she oscillates between doubt and determination, finally making a bid for freedom, not just for herself but for her children too. It's a decision that would define her legacy; one of honesty and humanity that remains unparalleled. The film discovers.the intimate personalities of women who changed the face of the '20th' century. Diana built their identity by herselve, not necessarily connected with the man she's married to. Both understood how to use the media of their times to convey certain versions of themselves to the outside world, though they did so in very different ways. When Diana decides to leave Charles, the family, and the life that comes with it, it's a decision she takes for herself, realizing that her own identity matters more to her than that of the 'Royal' family or the nation. But there's no idleness about that; she does it because she needs to. She's living in an environment that's crushing her, diminishing her, so she must protect herself and her children. Diana’s process, between doubt and determination, over the very condensed time of the 'Christmas' holidays in 'Sandringham' may just be a small glimpse at her life, yet it can say so much more than that. It's a life reflected in a few days.
A lot has been written about Diana, in newspapers, books and magazines. The stories are endless; some can be proven, some cannot. Yet the 'Royal' family is notoriously discrete. They may appear publicly on some occasions, but at some point, the doors close, and once they're, you don’t know what's happening behind them. That gives a lot to fiction. It's not a docudrama, the film creates something by taking elements of the real, and then using imagination, to tell the life of a woman with the tools of cinema. That why cinema is so fantastic; there's always space for imagination. Of course, for a character-driven film like this, actors are of the utmost importance. A good relationship between the main actress, the camera, and myself is key to build a character everybody thinks they already know. Building the character of Diana, the film creates a replicated image of her, using cinema and it's tools, like time, space, and silence, to create an internal world that struck the right balance between the mystery and fragility of her character. Both these sides of her are very visible in the scenes that have supernatural elements. Everything Diana sees is a reflection of her memories, her fears and desires, and maybe even her illusions.
Brimming with exquisite costumes and sets, the film succeeds in injecting the often stale biopic with an anarchic perspective on characters on the precipice of sanity, going beyond behind the myriad of paparazzi photos and rumors to find the complex, distraught, and beloved woman who continues to inspire the world today. "Spencer" balances history and conjecture, while the films uniquely atmospheric, intimate approach slides seamlessly between internal strife and external strain. Diana, meanwhile, is nothing less than a revelation, merging a meticulous evocation of a mercilessly scrutinized public figure with affecting hints of the vulnerable private woman gasping for breath beneath the mask of monarchy.