Anyone who reads, watches or talks about the lives of aging celebrities knows that Diana has caused a seismic shift in the ways we look at the question of aging in Hollywood. We’ve seen her on newspaper and magazine covers, she’s made several documentary films on her subject and there’s been a book about her life and adventures. But Cameron Crowe’s new movie “Spencer” doesn’t bury Diana completely in the movie’s opening: the fable-like opening scenes of the movie are spent setting the story up, and then it’s straight into the hero’s journey. But when Spencer Franklin (Kristen Stewart) talks about her time with the princess, we see her very clearly. We see her tensed muscles under the brim of her hat, one right hand jangling behind her, her eyes lighting up from the words she sings for her sister, and her voice choking as she sings of “Princess” or “Emma.”
When the public got to know Diana, she wore so much makeup (and many different lip colors) that looking very old can look very sexy — or sickening to the lens, as it can in “Spencer,” as Spencer’s skin and the eyes of her character become the focus of a conversation at a fancy restaurant. It’s tough to take the standards of the royal family seriously when all we see are the skin and eyes of men in dark suits around a table.