W.E. movie review

Posted on 18 December 2011
By Miv Evans
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No director in the world can save a bad script so it’s unfortunate that Madonna decided to write her own material for the follow-up to her first flop, which she also wrote and directed.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that W stands for Wallis and E stands for Edward and, yes, it’s yet another film about the royal scandal that, unlike its perpetrators, refuses to die.

It’s 1998 and an auction is being held to sell off Edward (James D’Arcy) and Mrs. Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) memorabilia. Wally (Abbie Cornish) is unhappily married to a doctor and spends her days visiting the auction room and fantasizing about the romance that lead to the King’s abdication. During these visits Wally is befriended by Evgeni (Oscar Isaac) a Russian security guard, and when her marital problems come to a head, he comes to her rescue.

As a heroine, Wally falls sadly short. Her wealthy husband abuses her on a daily basis and she not only puts up with it but is trying to start a family, thus signifying her acceptance of this degrading union. She whines, of course, but this makes her even less likeable and the most pro-active thing she does is hop on a plane to France so she can read the royal love letters. At this point she’s no longer with her husband so such a trip reeks of self-indulgence and, even as a single woman, she still has no place in the world.

About half-way through, there’s some particularly clunky dialogue from Wally, who says, “it’s time to give Wallis’ side of the story”, but if this is indeed the goal of the film then the filmmakers completely fail, as they give us no reason to have any sympathy for the most famous adulterer of the 20th Century. In fact, Wallis appears to be nearly as feckless as Wally herself and the only complimentary thing anyone says about her is “the whole world was against her, but she never backed down”. This is true, she didn’t, but neither did Anna Nicole, and I don’t remember anyone calling her a hero.

Before she makes another film, Madonna needs to learn that using slow motion and jump cuts for no good reason detract from, not add to, what’s on the screen. If you get in the editing room and realize you’ve got nothing worthwhile to cut, resorting to fancy tricks is not going to fool anyone, but it’s obvious by this film that Madonna thinks it can. So where would she get a half-baked idea like that? Watching too many Guy Richie films, perhaps?

Ireland – 20 January 2012
UK – 20 January 2012
USA – 3 February 2012
Brazil – 10 February 2012
Norway – 10 February 2012
Nethlands– 15 March 2012
Sweden – 16 March 2012
Belgium – 28 March 2012
Germany – 19 April 2012