Spencer, which hits theaters on Friday, November 5, takes place in the early ‘90s and follows Princess Diana during a weekend in the country with the rest of the royal family. During this time, presumably, she comes to the conclusion that she wants to end her marriage to Prince Charles (played by Jack Farthing).
Several elements of the film make this a must-watch for lovers of all things royalty, not least of which is Stewart herself. The movie plays out almost like a silent film, featuring extremely limited dialogue. This adds to the power of Stewart’s portrayal as we’re left to watch quite a few extended private moments that are captivating and nuanced. In fact, the majority of the movie takes place up in Diana’s bedroom where she spends time alone. The audience is able to see her at her most vulnerable—coping with loneliness, an eating disorder and a growing sense of dread—and her most distressed, even going so far as to physically injure herself in a particularly unsettling moment.
The film smartly gives us limited glimpses of the rest of the royal family, leaving the focus squarely on Diana. A scene of Diana getting ready for dinner is followed immediately by another scene of her back in her room after dinner as a servant begs her to come down for dessert. By skipping the dinner scene itself (though we do get to see a handful of those), it becomes clear that this is not about the royals, but about the psychological effect they and their lifestyle have had on Diana.
Though this obviously is a fictionalized version of the events of this specific weekend, it is quite satisfying (even to a royals fan) that the royal family is not painted in a very good light. Quite the opposite, actually. The film portrays them as extremely stuck in their ways, with very little respect for Diana as a human being (or as a mother). The family takes away her only confidante (Maggie, played gorgeously by Sally Hawkins), sews her bedroom curtains shut so she is unable to see outside and defies her request to keep her two young sons (William and Harry) from going hunting. For any Diana lover, it will be hard not to leave the film a little angry at the queen and the royal fam, even if they are fictionalized here.