Review: ‘Spencer’ details days in life of Princess Diana

This image released by Neon shows Kristen Stewart in a scene from "Spencer." (Pablo Larrain/Neon via AP)

By Katelyn Patterson | Reporter

“Spencer,” the biopic about the late Princess Diana and the 1991 Christmas celebration at Sandringham House, was released in theaters Friday and is rated R. Director Pablo Larrain described it as “a fable from a true tragedy.”

“Twilight” star Kristen Stewart played the lead role, alongside actor Timothy Spall and actress Sally Hawkins.

The film can be classified as many different genres, as it’s a Christmas movie, a psychological thriller, a horror film and a melodrama.

“Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 — and whose maiden name gives Larrain’s film its title — is hardly an obscure figure,” A.O. Scott said for The New York Times. “A global celebrity and tabloid fixture in her lifetime, she remains somehow irresistible.”

The film takes place over three days — Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The only members of the royal family that are heard from throughout the movie are Diana, her husband the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and the Queen of England. The queen is cold and off-putting. Charles is cruel and mocks Diana’s struggles, including her eating disorder.

Kristen Stewart’s performance is phenomenal. She turns the former Princess of Wales into someone familiar, even to those who never experienced her life. Stewart shows Diana’s wish to be herself and be free without the oversight of the royal family.

The power that the crown holds over her in the movie can easily be interpreted as a dictatorship, and the portrayal of Christmas preparations as a military operation (including armed soldiers delivering groceries, Diana’s line of outfits that she is instructed to wear for each activity and the intense schedule of events) only adds to that.

“P.O.W” labels each of Diana’s outfits. “It stands for ‘Princess of Wales,’ of course,” Scott said. “Still, Diana, in the midst of marital combat with Charles — who is having an affair with a briefly glimpsed, never named Camilla Parker-Bowles — is very much a prisoner.”

When she arrives at Sandringham House, Diana is already under watch and a cause for concern. She continues to be driven to near madness by depression and isolation. She frequently hallucinates Ann Boleyn, who she continues to relate to throughout the movie, believing that she will be made into a martyr like the long-deceased Boleyn.

This film was brilliant. As much as it may have dramatized her struggles and implied that her problems were only with the royal family, Stewart’s performance and the writing of the movie made it one to remember. Personally, it was one of my favorites of the year so far.