I saw the trailer for this film and recognised it was about Princess Diana, and then the name of the actress came up and I was stunned, this is described as "a fable based on a true tragedy", and one that I could not miss, directed by Pablo Larraín (Jackie). Basically, on Christmas Eve 1991, at the Her Majesty's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, the British royal family are preparing to spend the Christmas holidays. Among the attendees is Diana, Princess of Wales (Kristen Stewart), whose marriage to Prince Charles (Poldark's Jack Farthing) has become strained following his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. The staff, led by the capable Major Alistair Gregory (Timothy Spall), prepare for the royals' arrival, while Diana drives through the countryside. On the verge of a breakdown, she avoids heading to Sandringham until running into Royal Head Chef Darren McGrady (Sean Harris). She recognises the long-abandoned neighbouring estate, Park House, it used to be her childhood home. Diana's sons William (Jack Nielen) and Harry (Freddie Spry) are excited to see her, but she does not attempt to socialise with the royal family, who mostly ignore her. Diana's only friend at the Estate is Royal Dresser Maggie (Sally Hawkins), who gives her encouragement and fulfil the obligations expected of her. Diana finds a book on Anne Boleyn in her assigned bedroom. She begins to have dreams about Boleyn (Amy Manson). Diana has a hallucination of her at a Christmas Eve dinner and comes to believe that Boleyn's ghost is haunting her, being a fellow abandoned royal wife. The Queen (Stella Gonet) gives Diana a few concerned stares throughout the meal. Diana tries to visit her childhood home in the middle of the night, but royal guards stop her, mistaking her for an intruder. On Christmas Day, Diana attends the service at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham, where she notices Camilla (Emma Darwall-Smith) among the gathered crowd and is photographed by hundreds of intrusive journalists. She later joins the Royal Family for the traditional Christmas family portrait but finds the experience difficult. She later has an awkward conversation with Charles, as she concerned over William and Harry's participation in a pheasant shooting the next day. He rebuffs her and advises her to develop a stronger sense of separation between her public and private lives. Diana is upset after Charles has privately arranged for Maggie to be sent to London and refuses to have new Dresser Angela (Laura Benson) help her with clothing choices and dressing. Rumours are spread that Maggie planted the Boleyn book in Diana's room and made critical comments about her mental health. Diana questions McGrady about Maggie, but he denies that she had done anything wrong. Major Gregory attempts to encourage Diana to conform to the pressures of royal life, but she dismisses his advice. Diana imagines wounding herself with a pair of wire cutters given to her by McGrady. She avoids the formal Christmas Day dinner, choosing instead to run to her childhood home, accessing it with the wire cutters. While she explores the house, memories of her happier childhood flash before her, and she sees herself dancing and running in various places in several younger stages. She considers committing suicide by throwing herself down a flight of stairs, but the ghost of Boleyn stops her, she instead rips apart her pearl necklace. On Boxing Day, Diana awakes in her room to find that Maggie has been called back from London. The two take a walk to Maggie responds by admitting that she is in love with Diana. A nearby beach, where Diana talks about her mental and marital problems. After leaving the beach, Diana rushes to the pheasant shoot and walks out in front of the crowd of hunters. She tells Charles that she is leaving and taking William and Harry to London, an arrangement to which Charles hesitatingly agrees. Diana bids farewell to Maggie and McGrady; Major Gregory returns the Boleyn book to the library. As they drive away, Diana and her children sing the song "All I Need Is a Miracle" by Mike & the Mechanics. In the distance, a scarecrow that Diana had made when she was younger is seen, now wearing her royal clothes. Diana drives to London, where she begins the process of raising her children independently. They go to a KFC drive-thru for food, and she gives the name "Spencer". Diana looks over the River Thames, uncertain of her future but no longer burdened by memory or royal responsibility. Also starring Richard Sammel as Prince Philip, Elizabeth Berrington as Princess Anne, Lore Stefanek as the Queen Mother, James Harkness as Footman Paul, Niklas Kohrt as Prince Andrew, Olga Hellsing as Sarah Ferguson, and Matthias Wolkowski as Prince Edward. Stewart is a spitting image of the pop-culture icon and is compelling as the woman suffering severe depression issues and trapped by authority, Spall is interesting as the stony-faced aide, and the support of Hawkins and Harris as the household staff is good. I wasn't expecting it to be as disturbing as it was at times, Princess Diana is known to have had her issues, seeing her depicted on screen on the verge of a nervous breakdown, having bulimia and self-harming is hard to watch, and you do feel her claustrophobia. Besides Diana's emotional distress and the royal duty stuff, the food looks delicious and the preparation of it is lovely to watch, the costume design and colour is fantastic, and the score by Jonny Greenwood is fantastic, whether it is factually true and accurate or not, it is a fascinating psychological drama. Good!
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During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.
November 23, 2021