“Spencer”, Pablo Larraín’s Princess Diana fable, is less than the sum of its parts


It is hardly hyperbole to call the cultural fascination with Diana, Princess of Wales, cultish. Nearly a quarter of a century after her death in 1997, the stream of intrigue, betrayal, exploitation, obsession and recrimination seems in no more danger of running dry than it was during her lifetime. The past year has seen a new statue installed at Kensington Palace, her former home, an “unconditional apology” from the BBC after an independent inquiry found one of its correspondents, Martin Bashir, had used deception to secure a now legendary interview, a Broadway musical, and the release of the fourth season of “The Crown”, a Netflix series about the British royal family.

The last of these, which portrayed the meeting, marriage and incipient marital breakdown between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, garnered 24 Emmy nominations and won all seven in the drama category, the first show to do so. So “Spencer”, Pablo Larraín’s new film about the princess (born into the Spencer family in 1961), is all but guaranteed a receptive audience. It’s a shame, then, that it does not capitalise on its promise.

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