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In her newest movie 'Spencer', Kristen Stewart tackles the daunting task of portraying Princess Diana. How have critics reacted?

How have critics reacted to Kristen Stewart in the movie ‘Spencer’?

Twilight series co-stars Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson have used their clout in recent years to the benefit of the indie movie scene. Pattinson has starred in several A24 films such as Good Time, High Life, and The Lighthouse. Stewart’s contribution to independent film has been equally impressive. 

The thirty-one-year-old actress has starred in groundbreaking independent movies since portraying Bella Swan. From the 2015 sci-fi romance Equals with Nicholas Hoult to the 2019 biopic Seberg, Stewart has found a way to use her fame to make passion projects with innovative filmmakers. 

In her newest movie Spencer, Kristen Stewart tackles the daunting task of portraying Princess Diana. The movie is directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, who released the acclaimed biopic Jackie in 2016. Despite the appearance of being a prestigious picture, there are those who think Spencer is controversial.

Stewart as Diana in Spencer 

Set for release in the United States on November 5th, Spencer is a highly anticipated fall movie. Princess Diana is a polarizing historic figure with a compelling life story fit for the screen. Naomi Watts played her in the 2013 film Diana & Emma-Louise Corrin portrayed the Princess of Wales in The Crown.

Stewart’s performance in Spencer has ignited debate within film criticism circles. After the film premiered at the renowned Venice Film Festival this year, many consider Stewart to be a shoo-in Oscar nominee for Best Actress. Some critics are even considering Spencer to be a career-defining role for Stewart.

Robert Daniels of Polygon writes that “Spencer is an act of psychological horror, a kind of ghost story, and a survivalist picture carried by an uncannily immersive Kristen Stewart, in the best performance of her career.” However, with a topic as contentious as the royal family, there are bound to be detractors.

Time film critic Stephanie Zacahrek was not very impressed by Spencer. She writes that “Larraín turns this Diana into exactly the thing the royal family accused the real-life Diana of being, a willful & pouty constant complainer.” It will be interesting to see what fervent Diana stans think of the movie when it hits theaters.

Spencer’s reception

Pablo Larraín is probably hoping Spencer will strike awards season gold after his last movie Jackie was nominated for three Academy Awards. That idea seems promising thanks to Stewart’s powerful performance. Xan Brooks of The Guardian writes that “Kristen Stewart proves entirely compelling in the title role.” 

Despite its austere & arty atmosphere, there are still some mixed reviews of Larraín’s Spencer. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter thought that “not everything lands” in the movie. Yet, he writes that “it tells a sorrowful story we all think we know in a new & genuinely disturbing light.”


Kristen Stewart might not be the only big name associated with Spencer to bring accolades to the film. The movie is scored by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. Greenwood received praise for his scores in some of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films, including There Will Be Blood & The Master.

Spencer’s screenplay is written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. Knight decided to limit the scope of the script to a particular Christmas celebration at Sandringham in order to explore the royal family’s dynamics. With such a short window of time covered, we can really get an insight into what Diana’s life was like.

Stewart’s thoughts on the role

Refusing to be pigeonholed by Hollywood, Kristen Stewart has become one of the most dynamic performers in film. In creating Spencer, the actress has found some striking parallels between herself and Princess Diana. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stewart reveals that she’s “come near these sort of manic levels of fame and intrusion.” After being thrust into the limelight at such a young age, it makes sense that Stewart would seek out more reserved roles in smaller films. 

Taking on a role as emblematic as the late Princess of Wales would be intimidating to some actresses. Yet, Kristen Stewart admires the restrained strength of Diana. The actress thinks that the “power she pulls into every room is probably what was so upsetting for people who wanted a sort of demure & quiet figurehead.”

While Spencer & Kristen Stewart’s performance have divided opinion amongst critics, it’s still a movie that will be talked about a lot this fall. What do you think of Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana? Let us know in the comment section!

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