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.”
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.”
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 — 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.
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