Director: Pablo Larraín
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jack Farthing, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Amy Manson, Richard Sammel
Runtime: 1h 57m
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (Critics), 52% (Audience)
Like day-old Burger King, the story of England’s royalty, in particular, the implosion of Princess Diana’s and Prince Charles’s marriage has been reheated more times than I’d like to count. Princess in Love (1996), Diana (2013), Whatever Love Means (2005), and The Crown (2016-) have all taken a broadly historical approach to the eventual crumbling of one of the world’s most famous matrimonies. Spencer, however, chooses a different route. The year is 1991, and the royal family is headed to the Queen’s residence to celebrate Christmas. Rumors of the Prince’s extra-marital affairs have turned Diana’s (Kristen Stewart) and Charles’s (Jack Farthing) relationship into a charade meant to uphold the crown’s public appearance.
The Queen’s palace is notably private though, and Diana is done pretending. Delving into Diana’s mind, Spencer recalls the thematic stylings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ghosts, memories, and guilt all haunt Diana as she struggles to find what’s right for herself, her children, and her country. Striking a much more personal note than prior examinations, Spencer highlights the emotions and mental state of the characters surrounding the events instead of rehashing what we’ve seen countless times before.