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W.E.

by

Jeff Nelson

W.E. has some interesting ideas buried under all of the rubble, but the mess is far too great to be able to appreciate the good.

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Madonna is a pop-star who's known worldwide for her role in the music industry. She has now released a new album and has even decided to create her first motion picture. As soon as W.E. was announced, I quickly became skeptical. While there are exceptions to the rule, most singers who attempt to act, direct, or write end up creating an absolute mess. They decide that they want to temporarily have something to do with the film industry, although many of them don't have the skills in this business. Well, Madonna decided to crete a love story that constantly flashes back and forth between the past and present, similar to that of The Iron Lady. Of course, they're very different when it comes to the story and whatnot, but the formula of telling the plot is quite similar. Despite the fact that W.E. has a bunch of problems, I surprisingly believe that she has created a better first film than many other horrible attempts made by other singers. However, there are still many corrections I wish were made here.

This glossy ensemble drama juxtaposes the lives of a famous divorcée Wallis Simpson and Wally Winthrop, a young 1990s housewife. Wally years to have a romance as dramatic as Willis's, but soon discovers that history can be misleading. Sounds a lot like a tacky drama that you'd expect to see on the Lifetime channel, but there are actually some interesting ideas here. Unfortunately, they aren't quite explored to my satisfaction. The constant comparison between the lives of Wallis Simpson and Wally Winthrop is interesting enough, but I didn't find myself caring very much for Wally Winthrop. Not to mention the fact that the times chosen to switch between the two characters aren't very good and ultimately feel clunky and unorganized. Simpson's story is much more interesting and I would have liked this film to have paid more attention to that period of time from her perspective. Wally's story feels too much like an absolute cliché that you'd see on a cheesy chick flick. It's difficult to feel sympathetic for a character's situation when they take so incredibly long to take any action. However, Wallis's plot is much more interesting and I was curious to learn more about her character and her relationship with King Edward VIII. While there are times, such as when the film goes back in time, where this is an intriguing story, However, for the majority of the feature, it's far too messy of a screenplay to the point where it's very difficult to brush off and ignore. While Madonna isn't too bad behind the camera, she should keep herself away from writing scripts.

Attempting to bring the story to life are Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough, James D'Arcy, and Oscar Isaac. The performances are all over the place. Corish is Wally Winthrop. Her dialogue delivery is fine, but this character is extremely one-dimensional, which doesn't give Cornish much to work with. Riseborough is Wallis Simpson. She's decent in the role and fits the character. This is one of the better performances in this feature. james D'Arcy is acceptable, but isn't able to act as well as Riseborough The chemistry between the two isn't as convincing as one would imagine one would have an affair for. Oscar Isaac plays a supporting role as Evgeni, a security guard at the exhibition of Wallis Simpson, which Wally Winthrop is attending. He clearly parallels the role of King Edward VIII. However, Isaac displays the most genuine performance out of the entire cast. Despite the fact that audiences aren't able to see very much of his character or learn that much, I felt that I connected with his character the most. The acting ranges from mediocre to decent, although most of the blame should be placed upon the screenplay and the rest on Madonna for not being able to utilize this cast to its full potential.

When saying that Madonna is surprisingly not too horrid behind the camera, I mean this primarily in the visual department. She has captured some interesting camera angles here. For a first time filmmaker, she actually has done quite well with the visuals. Those with HDTVs will be delighted to know that this film has a picture that's nicely defined and accurate, in terms of skin tones. Despite the fact that this movie has more dialogue than anything else, it's a well-organized and natural track. Whenever there's music, it fills the soundstage with a rich and authentic sound. There's some nice ambience that reaches the surround speakers, which provides viewers with an environment. Visually, W.E. actually holds its own quite well.

I'm not a fan of Madonna, which is why I tried to erase the fact that she had anything to do with it while watching it in order to give it a fair chance. There's no use in seeing a movie such as this if I'm biased before it even begins. This isn't even my type of movie, but I found myself interested during the flashbacks about Wallis Simpson's life. However, whenever it flashed back to Wally Winthrop's life in the present, it would lose my interest incredibly quickly. The structure of flashing back and forth gets stale quickly and by the end of the feature, it feels way too formulaic, rather similar to that of The Iron Lady. The acting ranges from mediocre to decent, although it could have been much better with this cast if the screenplay was written better and if Madonna knew how to use these actors. However, Madonna has created some decent visuals behind the camera. I just wish that she had less involvement when it came to the writing of the screenplay. W.E. has some interesting ideas buried under all of the rubble, but the mess is far too great to be able to appreciate the good.

My Rating = Two Stars

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