Pablo Larraín’s Spencer, about Princess Diana and the meltdown of the Wales marriage over a fateful Christmas at Sandringham, is set to premiere at Venice in a couple weeks. It will then play at TIFF. I’m sure a trailer is coming soon, but first, there is key art, as the poster was just released earlier today. It looks AMAZING. Movie posters are an art unto themselves, but like the fine art of trailer editing, it’s been devalued over the last 20 or so years as the work has shifted from specialists to junior marketing associates with mediocre photoshop skills.
But this poster? It’s gorgeous. Spencer is being released by NEON, which was co-founded by one of the founders of Alama Drafthouse, one of the last good theater chains in the US. As a distributor, NEON is not insensible to the challenges facing cinema right now, but they consistently put a lot of care and consideration into how they present films. This poster is evidence of that.
People have, so far, been divided on Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. I’m not sure her performance will settle the debate, as her style of acting is so interior and minimal. People over-focus on the small maneuvers she indulges, like The Lip Bite (which she does not do nearly as much in any other role except Bella Swan, who was poorly written and gave her little to work with. No one is holding making Shovel Face against Robert Pattinson, but it’s not like his performance as the equally underwritten Edward was that great, either). But I am looking forward to Spencer, as a fan of KStew, as someone who is always up to rehash royal drama, and as a fan of Larraín’s Jackie, which feels like a spiritual relation to Spencer.
I just wonder what the impact will be on the real royal family? It felt like 20 years of careful image management had gotten the Windsors, especially Charles and Camilla, over the worst of the public backlash that came in the wake of Diana’s death. But then The Crown season four happened and landed like a dead whale in the middle of all that deliberate image crafting. The Crown season five, which will include the bad old days of the early 1990s, probably won’t help. And then there is all the trouble and terrible headlines surrounding Prince Andrew. The royal family hasn’t been this besieged since 1997. Spencer is “just a movie”, and not that important in the grand scheme of things, but I don’t think the royal family needs any more rocks thrown through their window, you know?
And reminding people of how shabbily Diana was treated by The Firm—especially now that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have shed some light on what it is like to be isolated within that family, and the mental health struggles no one seems to have any compassion for—is a giant f-cking rock. People are still PASSIONATE about Diana, and have big FEELINGS about her death, even 24 years later. It kind of feels like Spencer couldn’t come at a worse moment for the royal family. Oh well! Can’t wait to see it!