If you have been paying attention to the press coming out of Venice Film Festival at the moment, you will know that the second directorial feature, W.E., from singer Madonna has been given a collective roundhouse kick to the face by critics. People have decried it for being wildly misjudged and poorly executed. And with a couple of months away from theatrical release, two clips have emerged from the film which seem to confirm what the critics have been saying.
As has been widely reported, the content of these clips only provide little insight to the complete picture but show us that W.E. could potentially be the turkey of 2011. The film sounds as if it is structured similarly to Julie & Julia, in that there are two competing story lines.
One set in 1930’s Britain about the romance between Wallis Simpson and the future King of England: Edward VIII or David (as he’s referred to in the clip) and the other set in contemporary New York about a young woman called Wally, named after Ms. Simpson, who develops an infatuation with her story.
Of course, if part of that seems familiar to you its because you’ve already seen it partly dramatised in The King’s Speech, the main plot of Madonna’s film was a neat little side plot that fed into that film, which was about Edward’s brother Bertie or King George VI.
Now to the clips. The first one is of Abbie Cornish as Wally set in the modern day, talking to her partner played by Oscar Isaac about how perfect the love was between Wallis and David. The clip is spliced with newsreel footage and newspaper clippings in a fast editing style which looks more like a trailer than a film clip. You can watch this below.
The second is a scene between David (James D’Arcy) and Wallis (Andrea Riseborough), as he confesses his love for her while the camera follows them dizzyingly around a tree. Again, the clip is here below.
These brief clips do show signs of inept directing. For one, the over the top flourishes in camera and editing serve absolutely no purpose, showing to me that Madonna is clearly no director. Her years spent with Guy Ritchie have clearly rubbed off, the constant bombardment of pointless quick cutting and moving imagery seems like the movie is in the hands of an excitable child who is unable to sit still.
More worryingly however is the creaking and tortuously obvious dialogue which in the second clip is a complete mismatch to the period. Both those characters talk like they were born in the 90’s. It is also staggeringly obvious and is incredibly overwrought. The clips also validate the complaints of historical inaccuracy in the film, which supposedly makes Mel Gibson look like history professor.
Wallis Simpson was not, as portrayed, a wilting flower who was bothered by upsetting her husband’s right to the throne. Rather she was a very clinging personality who wanted nothing more than to be Queen of England. In fact by the time she was with David, she had yet to be divorced from her previous husband due to her eagerness to be with a man of royalty. Other details which are handily wiped clean from the film are the accusations of both her and David’s fraternisation with Nazi sympathisers, which didn’t make him particularly popular.
Madonna clearly has this criticism answered though. Arguing in her press conference that: “Truth is subjective.” A roundabout way of saying: “I have fudged historical details to fit my argument.”
W.E. is due for release in December