Spencer details a few days in Princess Diana’s life in 1991. We break down the ending, the Anne Boleyn connection & what happened in the aftermath.
Spencer’s ending explained — what happens after the events of the film? Princess Diana was a big part of the pop culture zeitgeist of the 1980s and 1990s, and her legacy became all the more talked about following her tragic death in 1997. She is brought back to life in Spencer, a film that is less of a biopic and more of a visceral emotional jaunt into a specific time in the late royal’s life.
Directed by Pablo Larraín from a screenplay by Steven Knight, Spencer follows Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) over the course of a three-day holiday — Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day — in 1991, highlighting her tumultuous marriage with Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) as she realizes her marriage isn’t working. Princess Diana is the focus as she interacts with her husband and two sons, Prince William (Jack Nielen) and Prince Harry (Freddie Spry).
Spencer ends in a way that certainly gives a little bit of happiness back to Princess Diana following the emotional turmoil she was feeling throughout. While Spencer is not 100 percent factual, the film does draw from certain real-life experiences. Here’s how much of it is accurate and what events transpired after Diana leaves Sandringham.
Ten films to watch at New Zealand film festivals
Films from 51 countries, including new offerings from Jane Campion and Paolo Sorrentino, are on the programme
The current moment is an uncertain time for just about every public-facing business and initiative – including and especially those in the arts. You are, frankly speaking, lucky if you’re able to attend a film festival these days – as the good people of Auckland know, given the New Zealand international film festival sadly will not be rolling into town this year.
It is however full steam ahead in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, with the festival boasting a chunky programme: 164 feature-length films sourced from 51 countries. Here are 10 titles that should be on your radar.
1. The Power of the Dog
Director: Jane Campion / Country: New Zealand/Australia
Few things compel cinephiles quite like the words “directed by Jane Campion”. The great auteur’s first film in a dozen years is a sumptuous-looking western about less than sumptuous subject matter: toxic men circa Montana in 1925.
The Hand of God review – Paolo Sorrentino exposes his childhood trauma
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons play wealthy ranch owners, one of whom feels outraged and betrayed when the other abruptly gets married. Shocking confrontations ensue, in a film that (quoting Xan Brooks’ four star review) is “a brawny, brooding drama about the wreckage caused by men”.
2. Fiona Clark: Unafraid
Director: Lula Cucchiara / Country: New Zealand
One of New Zealand’s most renowned photographers, Fiona Clark is celebrated particularly for her documentation of Auckland’s LGBT scene in the 1970s – captured of course at a more repressive and conservative time. Sermons were preached about her, photographs were censored, and – as the artist recounted in a 2017 essay – “everything to do with being gay or camp, or expressing sexuality in a different way, was illegal.”
An element of fearlessness is synonymous with Clark’s legacy, and reflected in the third word in the title of director Lula Cucchiara’s new documentary.
3. The Hand of God
Director: Paolo Sorrentino / Country: Italy
“Sheer decadence” is a good way to describe the all-out, everything-and-the-kitchen sink style of Italian auteur Paulo Sorrentino, whose films and TV series (including Il Divo, The Great Beauty and The Young Pope) reek of exuberance. Like with Baz Luhrmann, whose movies also often have the feel of epic shindigs, one imagines what it’d be like to attend a party in his honour – but you know none of your clothes will be fancy enough.
Sorrentino’s latest film is reportedly his most personal, set around the time of the tragic death of his parents (caused by a carbon monoxide leak) when he was a teenager.
4. Language Lessons
Director: Natalie Morales / Country: USA
Natalie Morales’s dramedy belongs to the “Zoom film” genre, which received a shot in the arm during the pandemic. Captured entirely through screens and online interactions, Language Lessons emotionally unites two geographically distanced people, exploring the platonic friendship between a Costa Rica-based Spanish teacher (Morales) and her new California pupil (Mark Duplass).
Director: Amy Taylor / Country: New Zealand
Ōtaua-raised activist Chris Huriwai sets out to investigate, among other things, the veracity of dairy company Fonterra’s claim that New Zealand’s dairy industry is the most sustainable in the world. Hints about the kind of conclusions he arrives at can be found in billboards the makers of Milked launched this week in Auckland and Wellington. They aren’t exactly complimentary, congratulating the dairy industry for being “our #1 polluter”.
Director: Justin Kurzel / Country: Australia
Justin Kurzel’s film about Martin Bryant – the perpetrator of Australia’s worst mass shooting event, which transpired in Tasmania in 1996 – was always going to be controversial. This non-didactic and hauntingly poetic film, however, refuses easy answers, explores morally complex questions, and doesn’t make the exploitative mistakes of other productions in this ethically icky genre – such as presenting simple and/or sympathetic portrayals of killers.
Caleb Landry Jones is intensely eerie in the lead role, which won him a best actor award at this year’s Cannes film festival.
7. Night Raiders
Director: Danis Goulet / Country: New Zealand / Canada
The festival’s official synopsis for writer/director Danis Goulet’s thriller, executive produced by Taika Waititi, informs us that the film is based in “a future world on the brink of collapse” – which also describes how most of us view the state of the present world. Set in 2043, in military-occupied North America, Goule follows Cree woman Niska (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) as she teams up with Indigenous dissidents in order to free her daughter from the oppressive hands of the state.
8. The French Dispatch
Director: Wes Anderson / Country: USA
Just about any actor in the world would love to work with Wes Anderson, for the same reason audiences love to watch his films: style. The great American auteur has spawned many imitators but nobody is like the real thing – with his symmetrical compositions, his overhead shots, his diorama-like set designs, his glorious tweeness and kitchiness.
A Hero review – Asghar Farhadi’s realist tale is just too messy and unsatisfactory
The French Dispatch is Anderson’s love letter to The New Yorker: an anthology film capturing the lives of journalists working for a newspaper in a fictional French town called Ennui-sur-Blasé.
9. Millie Lies Low
Director: Michelle Savill / Country: New Zealand
Remember that famous New Yorker cartoon On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog? On the internet nobody necessarily knows where you’re located, either. Mille Lies Low embraces the idea of online geographical obfuscation, which is a spiffy way of saying that the film revolves around a young woman using social media to fool people into thinking she is living in New York (whereas she’s actually keeping a low profile in Wellington).
10. A Hero
Director: Asghar Farhadi / Country: Iran
Oscar-winning Iranian film-maker Asghar Farhadi is known for directing psychologically complex dramas tightly centred around characters and performances. A Hero follows a divorced father (Amir Jadidi) who, on parole after being imprisoned for not paying his debts, launches a desperate plan to square things over with his creditor and – if things go to plan – free himself from the Big House. Expect a morally messy world filled with consequential decisions.