James D'Arcy and Andrea Riseborough star in W.E.


Andrea Riseborough, Abbie Cornish

Directed by Madonna
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 1
Community: star rating
5 1 0
February 2, 2012

Madonna directs again! Oh, no! Oh, yes! A hard lesson should have been learned after Filth and Wisdom, but here's Madge one more time doing something for which she is eminently unsuited – directing. Madonna's tenacity deserves praise, unlike anything else in this torturously torpid costume drama, except the costumes which gleam with period elegance. There is an idea here. Madonna and co-screenwriter Alek Keshishian (director of Madonna: Truth or Dare) are telling the true story of Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough, rising above the mud), the American socialite and divorce who King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) gave up his throne to marry. W.E. stands for Wallis and Edward – get it? In last year's Oscar-winning The King's Speech, Eve Best and Guy Peace took those roles. Not content with going deeper into that bizarre romance, Madonna adds a new wrinkle in the form of a contemporary Manhattanite, Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish), who sees herself in the other Wally, prompting director Madonna to interlace their stories. By the time you realize you don't know what's going on you will have stopped caring. Consider that a mercy. To close the film, Madonna co-wrote a song, "Masterpiece," which won her a Golden Globe award. Elton John and his partner seemed irked by the choice. I'm irked at the title of song. Nothing having to do with W.E. has any right to be called "Masterpiece."

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