The awards season is quickly drawing near. With every journalist discussing what films should be on your radar for the Academy Awards. One of the many shoe-ins is the biopic of a very famous member of the British royal family.
“Spencer” is the latest film by filmmaker Pablo Larraín and stars Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana as we see her go through her mental struggles and inner turmoil during the Christmas season. I was not a fan of Larrain’s last biopic, “Jackie”. However, I have been a big fan of Kristen Stewart, since her work in “The Twilight Saga” is quite fun, and her recent outings with filmmaker Olivier Assayas prove that she is a talented dramatic actress. I was very excited to see what she was doing next especially since she has gained so much buzz surrounding this film.
It is clear why the Academy loves this specific type of film, from its lavish set design and costume and at times wonderful performances from its leads. Although, some only prioritize being known as “Oscar-bait” just to appeal to Academy Awards voters.
“Spencer” is such a difficult film for me. On one hand, it is filled with beautiful set design, gorgeous costumes and had a great score (by the always wonderful Jonny Greenwood), but I was left wanting more from “Spencer”.
While I do commend Kristen Stewart for her ability and range, I was left fairly unimpressed by her role. There are hints of existential horror from her performance but at times feels like she is simply going through the motions.
Even more so, this movie at times seems like a Lifetime original movie version of “Joker” complete with the dance sequence. The mental health sequences were sometimes horrifying to watch as they felt very uninspired and manipulative in their approach.
Throughout the film, I was left very disappointed with its storytelling and felt like the plot was going nowhere, yet it was familiar. The film takes place during a normal Christmas but even then there was nothing to go on outside of Diana’s mental and physical struggles. If this film had taken the same approach of depicting her final days like in the 2014 Abel Ferrara film, “Pasolini,” I would have been more invested. While “Spencer” tries to tell the audience about the awfully structured British Parliament system, it does little to keep me entertained.
“Spencer” will work for some audiences and will definitely work for Academy Awards voters. However, I was left pretty underwhelmed and wanting more from the film. Stewart’s performance was simply mediocre to me, and the thematic depth felt shallow and manipulative. Though it is not all bad, Greenwood’s score and the technical work is all well and good; I was left feeling nothing from this film.