Language: English, French, Russian
Genre: Drama, History, Romance
Music: Abel Korzeniowski
Cinematography: Hagen Bogdanski
Madonna’s second film as a director, after the little seen FILTH AND WISDOM (2008). W.E. is her much more ambitious venture commingles Wally (Cornish), a modern woman’s self-liberation from a dead water marriage and the scandalous love affair between American divorcée Wallis Simpson (Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (D’Arcy) which causes a constitutional crisis in the history.
Shot with fluent confidence, this paralleled stories adeptly crisscross each other with two timelines, with occasional but vital crossovers in the same frame as Wally’s imagination goes wild. Voguish furnishings, exquisite reconstruction of the period flair with notable locales, it is glaringly Madonna’s vanity project (who personally invested in most of its estimated $15,000,000 budget), even Evgeni (Isaac), an immigrant security guard of Sotheby’s (he is the E in Wally’s storybook), lives in a commodious penthouse and is also a dexterous piano player, that is to say, there is no grassroots trace in Madonna’s notion of finding your Mr. Right.
One can not deny the film has a certain cinematic register which is quite charming, primarily in Wallis and Edward’s affair, probing from Wallis’ viewpoint, the tenor is to see the sacrifice she has undergone for the romance although we may all assume it is contingent upon Edward’s decision to favour this woman to his own kingdom. Andrea Riseborough is intrepidly intense to interpret a woman who merits such an accomplishment and what a heavy toll she takes for it, a career-defining role for her; and James D’Arcy, his royal temperament alone can be killingly fetching.
As for Wally’s narrative, it is a predictable damsel-in-distress situation, she is a trophy wife of an unfaithful husband (Coyle), who is a successful shrink, but not her prince-charming. Wally’s insistence in IVF is met with harsh rebuttal and domestic violence ensues. Excessively loses herself in Walls & Edward’s legend, and again predictably, his prince Evgeni is not what she expects. But the chemistry between Cornish and Isaac is comparatively tepid and more contrived, Abbie Cornish is habitually apathetic and Isaac seems to be too proud to patronising his character and his love-interest.
W.E. is a conventional fare to present Madonna’s strongest suit in accentuating women’s own volition in determining their fate, all the bells and whistles aside, it is an average output considering her submergence in the showbiz for all those years, an opportune deviation of her career-orbit is a smart manoeuvre. W.E. is slightly above my expectation, and adding more of her own pizzazz, she could be on a par with her confidant Tom Ford (A SINGLE MAN 2009), at the very least.