Okay, I’ll admit it. I watched William and Kate’s royal wedding. I also watched the Royal Wedding countdown segments that E!, The Insider and Entertainment Tonight all had. I even know that there are now baby rumors—twins, in fact— since Duchess Kate’s politely refused to eat of peanuts in one of the functions she and William attended. Yup, I’m one of those people who lap up whatever royalty-related news that pops up. If Kate and William had a reality show, I would totally watch it. That’s why I find Madonna’s upcoming movie, W.E., interesting.
You read that correctly…it’s a Madonna movie. But don’t worry, she’s not starring in it. After several critical failures of attempting to make it into the movie industry, Madonna tries once again via the writing-directing route with her movie W.E. This is her second crack at writing-directing, the first one being Filth and Wisdom. That didn’t do so well either. She wrote the script for W.E. with the help of director and Truth or Dare collaborator Alek Keshishian (he helped her develop it) as well as her then husband, Guy Ritchie, (he helped with the script and the screenplay).
The film follows the Julie & Julia formula where there are two main characters that are from different time periods. The character in the current time period uses the other character as inspiration or relates to her in a certain way and the stories of both characters intertwine in the film. And like Julie & Julia, the latter character is based on a real life person. In W.E., these two characters are Wally Winthrop and Wallis Simpson. Wally Winthrop lives in 1998 while Wallis Simpson is the notorious American who was the reason King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne for. Winthrop, a lonely trophy wife New Yorker, is obsessed with what she perceives as the ultimate love story of Wallis and Edward. But Winthrop’s research, including several visits to the Sotheby’s auction of the Windsor Estate, reveals that the couple’s life together was not as perfect as she thought. The film weaves back and forth in time with Wally’s journey of self-discovery and Wallis’ and Edward’s story—from the glamorous early days of their romance to the slow unraveling of their lives in the decades that followed.
There was a time where I was intrigued with the Edward-Wallis love story. I was fascinated by the fact that this guy gives up the crown for a commoner—and not just any commoner, but a married American, at that. It created this huge scandal and constitutional crisis at that time. But after reading up on it, I got the impression that Wallis was into the idea of becoming the queen more than the man who was willing to give up everything for her. Edward and Wallis were also suspected by many in government and society of being Nazi sympathizers, I wonder how W.E. would touch on this.
W.E. Release Date
W.E. will be in theaters in December 9, 2011
Who’s In It?
- Abbie Cornish as Wally Winthrop
- Andrea Riseborough as Wallis Simpson
- James D’Arcy as King Edward VIII
- Oscar Isaac as Evgeni
The Good Stuff?
Based on the trailer and Madonna’s disastrous forays into the movie industry, I am pleasantly surprised. I thought it would be another Castaway disaster. It’s actually not bad. It was shown 2011 Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival last September and had mixed reviews. It was praised for its lavish production design and the terrific, well-researched costumes. At least it wasn’t all negative. Andrea Riseborough’s Wallis was a solid performance, although the same can’t be said for Abbie Cornish.
The Bad Stuff?
This movie would probably be judged by the fact that Madonna made it. That’s a good thing if you’re a Madonna fan. But critics might be biased. The reviews were negative on the writing and direction of the film as well as the weak performances. Will W.E. be a commercial hit? I don’t think so. The controversial Edward-Wallis story could bring draw in some movie-goers but if the script is not well written (which was panned by the critics but I can’t tell by the trailer alone), this could be one of those forgettable films. I wonder which one Madonna would rather have, a so-so forgettable film or one that stands out for being so bad?