'Spencer' Review

A film about Princess Diana, isn't high on my list of ‘Things I’d like to see’. However with this being free to watch on Channel 4 (but at what cost? More on that later) and with it being directed by the same person who made 'Jackie' (Chilean director Pablo Larraín), I was intrigued enough to give it a go. No major spoilers here. 

Jackie, Spencer and Sounds

Feels like there are probably lots of similarities between one of the directors previous films ‘Jackie’ and this, with them both fundamentally telling the story of a very famous woman in an incredibly difficult situation. It's been a few years since I watched ‘Jackie’ but the main thing that sticks in my memory from that film was how prominent/good the sound was. (Its mostly all on youtube here)

I quickly presumed, during the first few scenes of ‘Spencer’, that the music must have been done by the same person, but having looked it up I was wrong. The soundtrack to 'Jackie' music was composed by Mica Levi (also did Zone of Interest) and ‘Spencer’ by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood.  If you give this a listen you can hopefully hear why I would presume wrongly - both bending notes in a kind of nauseating, intense, foreboding way with Spencer leaning more into Jazz at times. It is worth watching both films for the doom laden use of music alone.


The film centers around Diana experiencing a Christmas with the Royal Family during the breaking down of her marriage with Prince Charles. She is apparently struggling with all aspects of Royal Life as well as an eating disorder, which with every meal over the Christmas period being a very formal to do, it doesn't set her up for success. The lack of support from her in-laws is apparent adding to the sense of spiralling strain, with Diana often confiding in and looking to servants for help.

Diana, is played by Kristen Stewart, who in a rare win for Americans doing English accents on screen did a very good job. True, the caricature, extremely rich, southern, accent is probably the easiest but so often accents going either way across the Atlantic often and uncomfortably, miss the mark. Kirsten Stewart is believable as Diana which is key to the whole film working. I feared constantly thinking ‘oh yeah, it's the famous person from those vampire films’ and that would have no doubt killed any of the intensity and the suffocating mood that grows with the film. 

Kristen Stewart as Diana in Spencer (NEON )

Ruined by Adverts

The film is very much about mood and feeling over story. There's a situation and you are inside it. Except, thanks to watching it for free on Channel 4, every 25 minutes I was forced out of it for 3 minutes of adverts . Certain films, particularly not so great ones, you can watch and maybe even be thankful of adverts. This isn't one of those films. If you are going to watch, get the DVD or pay for a stream that's not going to interrupt it with an advert for a car or washing powder.


625 The films sound and, I'll say it again, its 'suffocating mood'.

50 Kristen Stewart being very good.

25 The red snooker table, I just really liked the look of it. 

28 The casting of Prince Charles. Not sure who the guy is but he had the essence of inbreeding sweating out of him.

25 The use of Mike and the Mechanics as the breakthrough music. 

0 Timothy Spall Playing an awful character really well. 

-25  Note sure the apparitions fully worked. Though this could have been the adverts killing the momentum of the film for me. 

-10 Finding out Diana was 36 when she died and so is forever younger than I will ever be again.

718 OUT OF 1000

A surprisingly good (I was surprised anyway) engulfing film, not to be watched on a laptop with crappy speakers or a stream that cuts to adverts, recommended!