W.E.

"Good"

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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.