W.E.

"OK"

W.E. Review


Madonna takes an ambitious approach to the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII, merging the history-making romance with the story of another woman in modern-day New York. The film is a jarring hodgepodge, but it's also enjoyably watchable.

Named after the notorious Mrs Simpson, Wally (Cornish) is in a 1998 New York auction house examining a vast collection from the life of the British king who gave up the throne for the woman he loved. In swirling flashback, Wally's story is woven in with that of Edward (D'Arcy) and Wallis (Riseborough) in the 20s and 30s, including Wallis' marriages to the violent Win (Hayward) and the accommodating Ernest (Harbour). Meanwhile, Wally is stuck in a cold marriage to William (Coyle) and looked after by a kindly security guard (Isaac).

Based on exhaustive research, the script takes the female perspective, which gives the film a singular angle on the story. At one point, Wally even travels to Paris to read Wallis' private correspondence, clearly recreating the way Madonna found the intimate details. And it's a strong narrative that holds our interest even with the fragmented structure. Less effective are the forced parallels between the two strands and the vast mood swings from cheeky comedy to wrenching violence to political intrigue to sweet romance.

Cornish and Riseborough are terrific as the two Wallises, with Cornish delivering a more introspective, engaging performance while Riseborough chomps marvellously on her cigarette holder, as well as much of the scenery. With the exception of the almost impossibly sexy Isaac and D'Arcy's foppish Edward, the men are all distracted and rather nasty. Although the cruellest character here is Elizabeth (Dormer), aka the Queen Mum, who manipulates her stammering husband Bertie (Laurence Fox) into rejecting his brother.

These details make the movie entertaining, even if we have to put up with melodramatic storytelling and overwrought filmmaking. Sensually designed and shot, Madonna uses film stock from 8mm to 35mm to shift between periods and play with newsreel footage, period settings and a few surreal moments when the two Wallises meet. The film's sheer ambition makes it worth seeing. And by taking a woman's viewpoint, Madonna explores issues most filmmakers pretend don't exist. So even if it's a mess, it still has relevance and resonance.



W.E.

Facts and Figures

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th January 2012

Box Office USA: $0.6M

Distributed by: The Weinstein Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 13%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 91

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Kris Thykier,

Starring: as Wally Winthrop, as Wallis Simpson, as Edward, as William Winthrop, as Ernest, as King George V, as Queen Mary, Haluk Bilginer as Al Fayed, as Stanley Baldwin, as Elizabeth, as Bertie, Douglas Reith as Lord Brownlow, as Lady Thelma, Christina Chong as Tenten, as Evgeni


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Inside Out Movie Review

Inside Out Movie Review

Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...

Southpaw Movie Review

Southpaw Movie Review

Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...

Eden Movie Review

Eden Movie Review

Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...

The Gallows Movie Review

The Gallows Movie Review

Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...

Advertisement
Self/Less Movie Review

Self/Less Movie Review

An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...

Ant-Man Movie Review

Ant-Man Movie Review

The increasingly stale Marvel formula gets a blast of fresh air in this rollocking adventure...

Love & Mercy Movie Review

Love & Mercy Movie Review

An unusually inventive approach brings this story to life, as the filmmakers get into the...

Ted 2 Movie Review

Ted 2 Movie Review

Fans of the surprise 2012 hit Ted will find plenty to love in this sequel,...

Advertisement