W.E. (2011) starring Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough, James D'Arcy, Oscar Isaac directed by Madonna Movie Review

W.E. (2011)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Andrea Riseborough in W.E. (2011)

Wally, Wallis & Madonna

As an auction house prepares for an auction of items belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Edward & Wallis (James D'Arcy & Andrea Riseborough), one woman Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) is over the moon as having been named after Wallis Simpson is obsessed with her to the point of being blinkered to her flaws. Stuck in a loveless marriage Wally fantasizes about Wallis and her romance with the then King Edward VIII who loved her so much he gave up the throne for her.

Bland, fascinating and messy are the 3 words which spring to mind as I think about Madonna's "W.E." a movie which she not only had a hand in the writing of but also directed and whilst not perfect does impress in some areas. Unfortunately there is one area in which it doesn't impress and that is when it focuses on Wally, her loveless marriage and the feelings she starts to have for a Russian security guard at the auction house. It is so bland that at times watching paint dry would be a more exciting experience with Abbie Cornish really struggling to breathe life into her character with a knock on effect of many of her scenes looking like she is a model posing for the camera.

Abbie Cornish in W.E. (2011)

But then you have the fascinating and that is the look at the romance between Edward and Wallis and Madonna really impresses when it comes to capturing not only the glamour of the era but also the romantic drama. The sad truth is that if "W.E." had been a straight historical biopic it might have been a lot more entertaining as it is this side where Madonna shows she can direct. But it is also to do with Andrea Riseborough who does a wonderful job of breathing life into her character. I don't know how authentic this vision of Wallis is but it is certainly one which has rise and fall, fragility and everything which a real person has.

Unfortunately there is the messy and combining these two stories of romance in the now and in the past doesn't work because they are so different. It is a shame as there are times when Madonna gets things very right in "W.E." but when she gets it wrong it really sticks out and drags the movie down.

What this all boils down to is that "W.E." is in truth an interesting movie on many different levels. The look at the romance between Edward & Wallis is wonderful with real depth of character but then you have the complete opposite with the more contemporary love story which almost destroys the movie by being so cold and bland.