David at the Movies: Diana’s not-so-merry Christmas

 SPENCER

I wasn’t going to bother with this, since The Crown and all those documentaries have given us an overdose of Diana and the Princes, but Kristen Stewart has received such rave write-ups I thought I’d give it a go.

     It’s a blistering performance that blows all the other versions of Diana out of the water. During three days over Christmas in Sandringham when her sons are about 10 and 8, Diana’s bulimia escalates into a full-blown breakdown. She has visions of Anne Boleyn, whose life as a royal bride famously didn’t end well.

    

     Apart from the young princes and a starchy equerry played by a cadaverous-looking Timothy Spall, Stewart gets pretty well all the screen time. HMQ and Charles are almost background extras in this one-woman show. Sally Hawkins has a touching turn as a dresser with whom Diana is able to let her hair down.
     We’ve gotten used to seeing Diana as petulant and put-upon. Steven Knight’s screenplay for Spencer amplifies her into a histrionic diva, prowling the corridors and pastures of Sandringham like Lucia Di Lammermoor. Kristen Stewart will surely pick up some awards, though Charles probably won’t suggest a DBE.

     This is very much a ‘fantasia’ on the life of the People’s Princess. Worth seeing? Hmm, maybe wait till it’s on free-to-view.

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