DIR: Madonna • WRI: Madonna, Alek Keshishian • PRO: Kris Thykier, Colin Vaines • DOP: Hagen Bogdanski • ED: Danny Tull • DES: Martin Childs • Cast: Abbie Cornish, James D’Arcy

Already saddled with the weight of being ‘the Madonna film’, since the The Queen Of Pop is both director and co-writer, and since her Madgesty’s history with film has been less than exemplary (Swept Away, Body Of Evidence, that god-awful cameo in Die Another Day), what is surprising is that W.E. is not nearly as bad as anyone might’ve feared.

Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) is unhappily married to William (Richard Coyle), and while visiting an exhibition at a local auctioneers, she begins to daydream about the life of would-be King Of England, Edward (James D’Arcy), and the renouncing of his royal title due to his marrying of twice-divorced American ‘commoner’ Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough).

While it’s clear that Wally sees her life as a modern day mirror image to Wallis’, aside from some superfluous similarities (neither can conceive children, both have been physically abused by past partners), it’s hard to see why these two stories have been chosen to be intertwined. But despite this lack of cohesion, and the film running on about twenty minutes too long, the cast manage to hold your attention throughout.

As far as Madonna’s direction goes, the film’s aesthetic is mostly reminiscent of Tom Ford’s A Single Man, all hazily lit cinematography and perfectly timed edits. So when it comes to story, Madge hasn’t quite got a grasp on writing a good one, but she does have a surprisingly good way of telling it.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
W.E. is released on 20th January 2012


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