Following Princess Diana over Christmas weekend in 1991, Pablo Larraín's Spencer is no biopic. Instead, it is a snapshot of a pivotal three days in her life, showing just how in flux things were—and how the other party involved would refuse to recognize any of it.
More than anything, Spencer is quiet. It's also deafening. Within the continuum between those two, it allows the audience the space to feel. It's a profoundly human film going both ways, and in that sense, it sets itself apart from other movies because it forms an almost innate connection between viewer and film.
Spencer appeals to the humanity in all of us primarily through observation, utilizing close-ups and hanging onto each and every facial expression. Though the film has incredible dialogue, its main story is told through Diana's face and actions—the minutiae that would otherwise be missed in an instant in real life is put under a microscope. Even at larger gatherings, it's as if the other people present don't even exist.
There's an overwhelming amount of emotion in the movie, and it almost hurts to see the pain portrayed on-screen with the knowledge of what's going to happen in just six years. All of the little things done to Diana begin to add up—the book of Anne Boleyn surreptitiously being left in her room, the sewing up of her bedroom curtains, and the removal of the only staff member that she's close to—Maggie, portrayed by Sally Hawkins.