starring Kristen Stewart, Sean Harris, Amy Manson, Sally Hawkins
written by Steven Knight
directed by Pablo Larrain
by Walter Chaw The last 12 minutes or so of Derek Jarman's excoriating, experimental The Last of England is just Tilda Swinton armed with garden shears, framed against a stark background, ripping through her wedding dress in a rapture of rage--a resounding rejection (or a prophecy of the inevitable fall) of the tradition and ritual, the future and hope, that marriages represent. The whole film is scenes of atrocity and decay intercut with home movies of the child this bride was, the couple this bride is a part of, and the calamity of the union into which society has forced her, culminating in this exorcism of these ties that bind. It's one of the great exits in Jarman, and The Last of England's afterimage is all over Pablo Larrain's impressionistic Spencer, a biography of three miserable days, from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, at the end of Princess Diana's tenure. It seeps through especially in a sequence where Diana (Kristen Stewart) dances by herself down the empty halls of Sandringham, an act of rebelling against the norms and controls imposed on her by the misfortune of her station. The scene would play perfectly against the mute wanderings of a grief-stricken Jackie Onassis in Larrain's previous examination of a woman encased--and left adrift--in a patriarchal system of power and exchange, Jackie. They are complementary portraits of the suffocation of empire. Both can be unpacked by Jarman's takedown of Thatcher's England, and all three left me a mess.