The Chilean film director Pablo Larrain is once again approaching a controversial subject in a controversial manner. He is making a movie about Lady Diana’s decision to get divorced from Prince Charles and he chose Kristen Stewart to play the part.
A thorny chain of decisions
Although the movie isn’t getting anywhere near the delicate subject of Princess Diana’s death, the Oscar nominee scriptwriter Steven Knight wrote a story about the Princess’s most controversial decision: to separate from her royal husband and become herself. The movie title is also striking: Spencer. Spencer was Lady Diana’s maiden name.
“We decided to get into a story about identity, and around how a woman decides somehow, not to be the queen. She’s a woman who, in the journey of the movie, decides and realizes that she wants to be the woman she was before she met Charles,” said Larrain for Deadline.
The latest choice Larrain made has also proved to be thorny. Choosing to cast Kirsten Stewart for the part has caused wild reactions in social media. From stupor to mockery, Princess Diana’s admirers expressed their disagreement with Larrain’s choice.
Larrain has generously justified his decision to cast Stewart. “Kristen can be many things, and she can be very mysterious and very fragile an ultimately very strong as well, which is what we need. The way she responded to the script and how she is approaching the character, it’s very beautiful to see. I think she’s going to do something stunning and intriguing at the same time. She is this force of nature.” But that doesn’t seem to convince everybody.
Why not Kristen Stewart?
Known form the part she played in The Twilight Saga and the mediatic scandal her breaking up with Robert Pattinson caused, Stewart became the kind of actress that both picture-goers and coyly admirers of Lady Di won’t accept as a suitable choice.
The tweets go from “Kristen Stewart as Lady Diana … I am perplexed” to “Kristen Stewart is our new Princess Diana? Absolutely not.” The GIFs used by the fans to express their disappointment are even more insulting.
Larrain’s history says he knows what he’s doing when it comes to delicate subjects. Both as a director as well as a producer. It would seem fair to think that the public’s reactions were to be expected for him. It might also be a marketing strategy. You couldn’t expect such a controversial subject to cause any less controversy.
Pablo Larrain has a taste for controversial
The first time I got in contact with Larrain’s filmography was at Berlin International Film Festival, in 2015. I saw The Club, a movie for which he won the Silver Bear – the Grand Jury Prize. The movie was about a group of priests and nuns, exiled in a Chilean small village for child abuse and baby-abduction from unwed mothers.
In 2016, he directed a movie about controversial communist poet Pablo Neruda and Gael García Bernal played the role. In 2017, Larrain’s movie Jackie was nominated for three Oscars. Natalie Portman’s performance on Jackie Kennedy in the movie was also a subject for debate.
In the same year, I saw Larrain again at Berlin IFF. This time, as a producer for another controversial movie called A fantastic woman. Directed by his friend Sebastian Lelio, the movie is telling the thorny story of a transgender woman played by transgender actress Daniela Vega. I remember the awarding night when transgender stars, such as Conchita Wurst, made their appearance and captured the cameras. The movie also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2018.