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The actress' heavily hyped turn as Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín's Spencer debuted for critics Friday at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, and early reactions indicate the 31-year-old could be well on her way to her first Oscar nomination in a film that's sure to stimulate praise and controversy for its imaginative take on the late icon's life.
NEON Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in the 'Spencer' teaser trailer.
"Kristen Stewart [is] at the best she has ever been. An extraordinary f--- you to the royal family," tweeted First Showing's Alex Billington, who also called the actress a "100 percent lock" for an Oscar nod. "A ravishing, exhilarating story about a woman who can't breathe, realizing she needs to break free from the royal shackles. Larraín's best since No."
Spencer - Oh I LOVED this. Kristen Stewart at the best she has ever been. An extraordinary fuck you to the Royal Family. A ravishing, exhilarating story about a woman who can't breathe, realizing she needs to break free from the royal shackles. Larraín's best since No. #Venezia78
— Alex Billington @ #Venezia78 (@firstshowing) September 3, 2021
The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern echoes the sentiment, calling Stewart "the Best Actress frontrunner" in a film that plays as "a showcase for [her] talents." He continues: "She nails Diana's breathy voice and affect; her slouched posture; and her inner anguish. There is a musicality to her performance."
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) September 3, 2021
Writing for The New York Times, Kyle Buchanan cites Stewart as a "grounding presence" for the film's borderline camp interpretation of Diana's life. "The more the movie goes on, the more her casting even seems like a meta stroke of genius: Stewart is one of the few people on the planet who has known paparazzi scrutiny that is even somewhat comparable to the fusillade of flashbulbs that hounded Diana until her death. If Diana doesn't always want to come out of her room, you can imagine that Stewart has felt those feelings, too: Whether she plays the game or not, there's no real way to win," he said.
SPENCER: Yes, this is JACKIE part two, with beautiful dresses and empty loneliness given equal time. But Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana very differently than Natalie-as-Jackie. Click through for my take! https://t.co/qPxDU4qF6J
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) September 3, 2021
Spencer — which also screens at the awards-positioning Telluride Film Festival this weekend — follows Stewart as the ill-fated, real-life icon as she comes to terms with the dissolution of her marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) over a holiday stay at the queen's Sandringham Estate. Though the family engages in typical Christmas celebrations, Diana works through the inner turmoil of her personal life in an "imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days," according to the film's official synopsis.
The project marks what many pundits have speculated could finally be Stewart's ticket to an Oscar nomination, as she's spent the last few years shifting from commercial blockbusters like Twilight to more prestige dramas such as Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper.
See what journalists are saying about Stewart's turn as Princess Diana in the first Spencer reactions out of the Venice International Film Festival below. The film is set for release via Neon on Nov. 5.
SPENCER is an absolute triumph. With this creative imagining of an exclusive look into the personal life of the People’s Princess comes a powerhouse performance, breathtaking visuals and above all a heartfelt story about existentialism and harrowing tragedy #Venezia78 #Spencer pic.twitter.com/pbQz01l6sg
— yasmine!! @ Venezia 2021 (@byebyebucky) September 3, 2021
— Owen Gleiberman (@OwenGleiberman) September 3, 2021
Had a good cry at the beginning of SPENCER, then a good cry at the end of SPENCER, then sat down to put together the most positive review I’ve ever written https://t.co/xjVLIKSRiA
— Adam Solomons (@adamsolomons5) September 3, 2021
#Spencer is tragic, melancholic, and also a sublime and ultimately joyful tribute not to a Princess, but to a woman whose life was cut too short. Kristen Stewart is a force to be reckoned with. Also, an accidentally fantastic Christmas Carol adaptation. pic.twitter.com/MrsaICXqe2
— Rafael Motamayor @ Venice (@RafaelMotamayor) September 3, 2021
my only thoughts on SPENCER for now are that Kristen Stewart is a genius, Claire Mathon is several geniuses voltron-ed together, and Jonny Greenwood - who, uh, already had a cool career going - going to be one of the greatest film composers to ever do it by the time he’s done.
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) September 3, 2021
‘Spencer’ Venice Film Festival Review: Kristen Stewart Finds The Private Diana In Pablo Larrain’s Superb Royal Breakup Drama https://t.co/2fMmAqHDUg
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) September 3, 2021
Kristen Stewart in Princess Diana Biopic ‘Spencer’: Film Review | Venice 2021 https://t.co/tZxqRM1o0D
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 3, 2021
SPENCER is so closely allied with JACKIE — structurally, formally, tonally — that surely this has to be building to some kind of Impossible Princess biopic trilogy. Who next? There's no one else I'd trust with a Britney film, I'll say that much.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) September 3, 2021
#KristenStewart and #PenelopeCruz give two of the best performances so far here at #VeniceFilmFestival. Stewart paints a fascinating, tragic portrait of Princess Diana in #Spencer. Cruz is once more at her best as one of two women whose lives intertwine in Parallel Mothers. pic.twitter.com/Ri9RRKdAcT
— ruben nepales (@nepalesruben) September 3, 2021
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