Diana’s new movie ‘Spencer’ may be beautiful but lacks tension

Royal pundit Patricia Treble’s take on Diana’s latest movie: The Bones for a Good Movie are there, but the end result is disappointing. Also, how closely did you follow what actually happened?

The movie Spencer he labels himself, “A fable of a true tragedy.” It focuses on Diana, Princess of Wales, during the three days the royal family gathers for the 1991 Christmas holidays at the Queen’s private estate at Sandringham. This holiday is one of Elizabeth II’s favorites, as it is one of the few times in the year that a large part of her extended family is together.

Nothing major happens during those three days, but trouble is undoubtedly brewing. Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles is unraveling under the pressure of time, revealing how poorly they adapted to each other, as well as the adultery (committed by both Charles and Diana) and the constant and fiery attention of the media and the populus. And the impact of those strains is the central theme of this feature film.

Spencer it is a wonderfully surreal drama. director Pablo Larrain (Jackie) distills the concept of a biopic to its essence: the main character. The focus of the film is Diana’s worldview, which leaves the viewer in her sudden hallucinations and mood swings, with a jarring music soundtrack that emphasizes the unstable atmosphere at Sandringham. The bones of a great film are there: its cinematography is spectacular, while the direction and production design are clever. But somehow the result is strangely dull and unsatisfying.

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Actress Kristen Stewart She is a bulging-eyed but worried Diana. He has the perfect eyes and voice, as well as the way Diana walked. But his performance feels overloaded and unconvincing. I kept hoping for something deeper than repeated close-ups of her anguished face and clenched fists amid bouts of bulimia and appearances by a ghostly Anne Boleyn, played by Amy Manson, which is an unsubtle warning of what might await Diana. There is little tension or a sense of expectation; The outcome of the film is notably disappointing. And even Larrain He couldn’t help but adopt a classic trope: break a necklace so that the individual pearls fall and resonate with the cinematic drama. In reality, pearls are individually knotted on a string even for cheap mass-produced necklaces.

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Aside from her own mental struggles, the only major contrast for Diana is Major Alistair Gregory, played by the wonderful Timothy spall. He is supposedly the newest squire to the Queen Mother, who was then 91 years old, but is ubiquitous in the Queen’s own home, even overseeing dinners and security on the estate (umm, that’s not a job for the military assistant of The Queen Mother). His real duty appears to be to evaluate and “manage” Diana, which, it should be noted, he does not seem to be doing successfully.

In the movie, Diana adult confidants are a male chef and his boudoir, Maggie, played by Sally Hawkins. The scenes of the two women, an aristocrat looking for herself; the other, a servant full of quiet confidence and joie de vivre, are the highlights of the film. Their relationship overcomes class differences to become a true friendship. Unfortunately, those moments are not long in this 111-minute film, in which Larraín spends more time on screen to the events of the kitchen of the great house and its staff.

Perhaps to keep audiences off balance, Spencer plunges into his fable without any configuration, assuming audiences know the basics of “true tragedy,” which for many comes from watching four seasons of yet another fiction. to turn in real life, The crown, on Netflix. The version of that series, in a nutshell, is that the charming and caring Diana has been bruised by years of mistreatment by her philandering husband and family, becoming bulimic and self-destructive. close to cracking under the pressures of being a member of the House of Windsor.

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The reality has many more nuances. In the months leading up to Spenceron the holiday stage, Diana was secretly helping Andrew Morton write a revealing book about her life that was part catharsis and part revenge directed at her husband. The result, Diana: her true story—Who revealed his eating disorders and suicide attempts, as well as confirmed that Charles had returned to his old love, Camilla Parker Bowles — was a bomb dropped straight at the heir to the throne. Even now, the “Diana story” that most believe to be true comes from Morton’s account.

On Spencer, most royals are consigned to quiet tertiary roles, to the point that at first I thought Gregory, the squire, was Prince Philip. And William and Harry appear isolated in Sandringham, deprived of the company of other young people, such as their cousins, Peter and Zara Phillips (the children of Princess Anne), who would have been there. Surprisingly, Charles doesn’t play the villain, but he seems trapped, like Diana, in this ancient institution seemingly run by the willpower of servants and staff. And in the end of this movieSpoiler alert“It is Charles who gives Diana her freedom.”

(Courtesy of Neon)

The clothes in the movie are definitely taken from the Ungracious range of the true Diana’s wardrobe: Wore a version of the veiled black hat and red coat to church on Christmas Day two years later than her movie counterpart; the opaque yellow tricorn and the sailor suit of Spencer it was a transformation from a cheery red version that he wore at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth in 1989; and the highly ornate evening dress is a reference to a 1986 dancer-inspired design by the Emanuels, who made their wedding dress.. (And yes, Diana wore a gigantic pearl necklace at that 1986 event.)

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There are strange ambiguities. Diana enters Sandringham loudly complaining of the cold, yet she is often seen in sheer blouses and out-of-season clothing (in a scene, she wears what looks like a summer outfit, complete with white shoes, for a family photo shoot.) She reflects on having “her face on a coin” when she becomes queen, although in reality that honor would belong to her husband as monarch. Park House, the rambling mansion on the Sandringham estate where Diana spent her early childhood was not an abandoned ruin, a symbol of her idealized past and destroyed present, but had in fact been transformed into a charity. hotel for the disabled.

For those who are wondering about the title, Spencer, is his last name. Lady Diana Spencer was born into one of Britain’s most famous and powerful families, especially compared to the relatively upstart German lineage of the Windsors. After Park House, Diana and her family moved into their stately home, Althorp, which dates back to 1508 and rivals royal palaces and castles with its old master walls and treasure-filled hallways. The implication that runs through Spencer It’s clear: Diana can only survive if she regains the confidence and happiness of her premarital life.

Of course, that did not happen. In the end, there is an unspoken irony in Spencer. In the film, Diana tries to keep William away from the stifling royal history and traditions embodied in Sandringham. In reality, William has made no secret of his love for Sandringham – he lived full-time on the estate for several years while his family was young, and he re-lived there for much of the pandemic. William speaks often of his mother and the influence she had on his life, but he is also a Windsor, increasingly in tune with his father, Charles, when it comes to the future of the monarchy.


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