Last Friday, Kristen Stewart walked the Venice Film Festival premiere of Spencer, the historical drama about Princess Diana in 1990. I wondered if Kristen would perhaps channel Diana in some way for her tour through the film festivals, but she really hasn’t. I mean, maybe her Chanel blazer at the photocall was Diana-esque, but she paired it with hot pants. And Diana would not have ever stepped onto a red carpet wearing this ugly negligee. This is Chanel and it’s really terrible that they sent her out in this mess. This looks like some cheap thrift-store nylon pajama set from the 1980s!! Ugh. I hate that Chanel did her dirty. I’m not saying that I expected to see Kristen in a ballgown, looking like a princess. But find a middle ground, or at the very least, find a really great pantsuit. One nice thing: her hair looks so much better in these photos. The color looks less orange-y.
As for the Venice reviews of Spencer… almost all of them are positive, and most critics completely loved Kristen in this role and they believe she absolutely nailed it, and that she’ll receive an Oscar nomination for it. The bad news is that after Season 4 of The Crown, I’m not sure the royal establishment is ready for how Spencer continues to make them look like petty, moronic clowns. The Guardian’s review (written by Xan Brooks) is the one being widely quoted:
Working off a sharp script by Steven Knight, Chilean director Pablo Larraín spins the headlines and scandals into a full-blown Gothic nightmare, an opulent ice palace of a movie with shades of Rebecca at the edges and a pleasing bat-squeak of absurdity in its portrayal of the royals. Larraín’s approach to the material is rich and intoxicating and altogether magnificent. I won’t call it majestic. That would do this implicitly republican film a disservice.
Jetted in from California, Kristen Stewart proves entirely compelling in the title role… Stewart effectively captures the agony of a woman so programmed and insulated that she feels she has no escape and has lost sight of who she is. The servants (well played by Sally Hawkins and Sean Harris) want to help but they are part of the very machine that she hates. They know that if Diana breaks down, the mechanism does too. What matters above all else is to keep the woman up and running.
No doubt it took an outsider to make a film that’s as unreverential as Spencer, which dares to examine the royals as if they were specimens under glass. At heart, of course, Larraín and Knight’s tale is utterly preposterous. It’s a tragedy about a spoiled princess who lashes out at the servants; a thriller about a woman who has only 10 minutes to get into her dress before Christmas dinner is served. But how else do you play it? The monarchy itself is preposterous. Spencer presents the whole institution as little more than a silly ongoing game of dress-up, a farce that depends for its survival on everyone playing along and propping up the illusion, the old moth-eaten brocade. Anybody who doesn’t is ostracised, crushed or cast out in the cold, with the scarecrow and the pheasants and the shivering security men. “Will they kill me, do you think?” says Diana, half-joking, and such is the level of fury and tension that just for a moment we believe that they might.
I was already going to see Spencer, but reading through the reviews has convinced me that I will genuinely enjoy it. Apparently, Diana sees Anne Boleyn’s ghost too, and Anne tells to GTFO while she still can? Amazing.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.