The true story of the Christmas trip in which
Princess Diana decided to leave the royal family.
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Written by Steven Knight
Starring Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins,
Sean Harris, Jack Farthing, Jack Nielen, Freddie Spry
Oscar Nominations - Best Actress (Kristen Stewart)
The story of Diana, Princess of Wales is heartbreaking. On the surface, she appeared to be living a fairy tale as a real-life princess. But beneath the lavish lifestyle, Diana was more a prisoner of tradition than anything out of Disney. She was trapped in a loveless marriage to Prince Charles, who constantly cheated on her openly. Apart from her two kids, she had nobody who really loved her. The royals treated her with a cold disdain simply because she was beloved by the people, who saw her as relatable and warm, everything the royals weren't. This film tells only a small piece of her fascinating but tragically short-lived life. And it's hardly the biopic that Diana deserved.
Kristen Stewart has been getting heaps of praise for her performance as Diana. While she does a serviceable job, I don't think it's groundbreaking. I think it's weird that the most iconic royal in England's history is being portrayed by an American. There are times when you can see through the accent, and the illusion cracks. On top of that, the film drags. There's not enough juice in Christmas 1991 to fill an entire movie, so a lot of it is just watching the head chef read the menu or establishing shots of fields. I do like how the royals are never treated as characters. They're more like living depictions of Diana's psychological troubles.
Spencer, named for Diana's surname, doesn't contain quite enough details of Diana's struggles with the royals and her own mental state to justify its existence. To tell Diana's story properly, you'd need an entire series and a British actress who understands her importance to recent English history. Considering the entire film stands on Stewart's performance, it isn't terrible. Just not as good as it could've been.