For those who grew up in a dysfunctional household where holidays were not quite ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, Spencer will feel like a walk down memory lane…And while some might choose The French Dispatch for best 2021 re-watch (and I’m game, genius creativity at too high rpms), given the choice I’d say Spencer (directed by Pablo Larrain), not due to speed, but more for delectability and lack of subtitles.
Let me elaborate: unlike Jackie (that while profound was just too darn sad to re-watch), Spencer had some light. Of course that’s because she was pre-flight, and yet certainly primed and ready for departure ‘on the tarmac’. Additionally, and probably most importantly Larrain’s focus and ideal casting, added the pivotal relationships of her life with her sons (portrayed brilliantly by Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry).
On the flip-side, the whispery voices combined with the British dialect left me asking (in my head, I’m not one of THOSE people) “what did he/she say?”. But a mere tiny blip on an otherwise perfect movie. Ok, one more eensy weensy edit I’d make…the dance sequence’s placement was a tiny bit random (and yes, I realize it symbolized her desire to be less serious, more child-like, to get ‘back home’) with each dance scene within the scene a bit too long.
Back to the pluses which were numerous. The story takes place over three days: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day which is the perfect sized gift box for a story with moments. The acting is also top notch: Kristen Stewart is a marvel. Sally Hawkins is the woman who can steal any scene. Timothy Spall, blessed to be born with sour puss/menacing face, and Sean Harris, where you been all my life? And one more for good measure, Jack Farthing was terrific as Prince Charles.
Besides my first choice for this movie season’s re-watch, Spencer definitely has my favorite ending and best use of 80’s song since Say Anything’s Peter Gabriel. Talk about sticking the landing, bravo Pablo and screenwriter Steven Knight.