Skip to main content

Spencer Is the Perfect Holiday Feel-Bad Movie

Kristen Stewart rests her cheek on her hand and looks into the camera as Diana in Spencer.

There are a lot of great movies in theaters right now if you’re looking to get out of the house this Thanksgiving weekend, but none of them may be a better fit for this specific holiday, thematically speaking, than Spencer.

Technically, Spencer is a Christmas movie, as it tells a fictionalized (or “fable”-ized) version of the Royal Family’s annual holiday trip to the Queen’s Sandringham estate, told from the perspective of Princess Diana as she prepares to divorce Prince Charles.

But it’s also perfectly fitting for Thanksgiving, the holiday where so many people are forced to gather with their extended families, with a whole array of various dysfunctions on parade, and made to partake in all sorts of awkward traditions. Sure, those traditions might not be as elaborate or imposing as those demanded by the Queen of England, but the heightened stakes give the rest of us a nice bit of cinematic perspective.

Yes, your holiday experience might be trying, but you’re probably not required to sit on a scale to weigh in at the start and end as a way to literally measure your enjoyment of the holiday.

The royals! They’re not at all like us!

Spencer is also extremely food-centric. Its torturous dinner scenes make it a great fit for our biggest dinner-based holiday of the year, not least of all being one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, involving Diana gulping down her own ginormous pearls in a harrowing, surreal probably-fantasy sequence.

Even those of us who genuinely enjoy Thanksgiving and all the family trappings that come with it can enjoy the tropes of a holiday horror movie. Spencer is an incredibly intimate examination of a woman fighting to maintain her identity and sense of self in the face of enormous familial pressures. It’s a compelling story whether you relate to it on a personal level or not. And if you do relate to that story on any level, this is the perfect time of year for it.

Plus, watching the absolute worst possible scenario play out makes us feel better about what we have, and when it comes to mundane dinner party melodrama, there are few scenarios worse than that depicted in Spencer.

(image: NEON)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.