7 out of 10
Release Date: 20th January 2012
Director: Madonna: (Filth & Wisdom)
Cast: Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough, James D’Arcy, Oscar Isaacs, Richard Coyle, David Harbour, Judy Parfitt, Katie McGrath, Lawrence Fox, Natalie Dormer, Anna Skellern, Geoffrey Palmer with James Fox and Haluk Bilginer
Writer: Alex Kesheshian & Madonna
I’ll say this much about Madonna, being a musician she certainly knows who to match a piece of music to a scene. The soundtrack is one of the most notable aspects of W/E and for the most point it makes the movie an even more immersive and emotional experience. This can be seen as a well-timed companion piece to last year’s The King’s Speech as it covers a lot of the same events but from a different perspective. Picking up on two parallel story lines, the first chronicling the world’s most famous romantic scandal between King Edward VIII (JAMES D’ARCY – CLOUD ATLAS) and American socialite, Wallis Simpson (ANDREA RISEBOROUGH – NEVER LET ME GO). The second is a modern day tale of a W/E enthusiast, Wally (ABBIE CORNISH – SOMERSAULT) told during the Sotheby’s auction in the late 90s. It’s very similar in this respect to Stephen Daldry‘s The Hours.
The splintered and non-linear approach to the narrative works to a large degree. It’s the compelling performances by the two female leads that generate a pulse. We are told, probably too many times, that we rarely look at the affair from Wallis-Simpson’s point of view. We don’t consider what she gave up to be with Edward. The film paints the majority of the Windsors black with the exception of a down-trodden Bertie / George VI (LAWRENCE FOX – GOSFORD PARK) and it portrays Wallis-Simpson as sympathetic yet defiant and steely. James D’Arcy comes across as three dimensional, a better reading than Guy Pearce did in the same role in The King’s Speech. His love for Wallis-Simpson is believable.
Less convincing is the modern day tale of Wally and her abusive psychiatrist husband (RICHARD COYLE – PUSHER 2012). An ex-employee at Sotheby’s she is enraptured by the exhibition of W/E paraphenalia on sale. She befriends a Russian security guard (OSCAR ISAACS – DRIVE) who may hold the key to her escape and happiness. Whilst the performances are very good and convincing, the growing relationship between the two seems rushed. Her decision to go with this guy seems based on his reading choices (Rilke!!) and his skill at the piano. Luckily, she can conjure up Wallis-Simpson to ask advice and offer succour herself in times of strife, seemingly able to time travel. This doesn’t happen often enough to derail the film and turn it into a show stopping gimmick. It is perhaps the only clunky element.
Abbie Cornish is an amazing actress, always favouring the role of strong and sexy women. She is equally matched by the talented and rising actress Andrea Riseborough. Along with an accomplished supporting cast, W/E is a far cry from the cinematic botch I was expecting when I read about it. I was stupidly basing my opinion on Madonna‘s acting career choices, Evita aside, which are less than impressive. Anyone ever seen Guy Ritchie’s forgotten third film Swept Away! Or her directorial debut Filth & Wisdom? Erk.
Historical inaccuracies have been angled at the film but beyond W/E dancing to The Sex Pistols in the 1930s, I couldn’t see anything amiss.
7 out of 10 – A great companion piece to The King’s Speech. James D’Arcy trumps his opposite number, Guy Pearce from said film, with a convincing Edward VIII. Immersive original soundtrack and some sumptuous and well shot visuals. Recommended.
Now read Matt Usher’s Review Below:
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Abbie Cornish: Robocop (2014), Seven Psychopaths, Limitless, Sucker Punch, Bright Star, Elizabeth I – The Golden Age, Candy, Somersault
- Andrea Riseborough: Birdman, Oblivion, Welcome To The Punch, Shadow Dancer, Brighton Rock ( 2011), Resistance, Made In Dagenham, Never Let Me Go, Happy Go Lucky
- James D’Arcy: Jupiter Ascending, Let’s Be Cops, Cloud Atlas, Hitchcock, The Age Of Heroes, Screwed (2011), Exorcist – The Beginning, Cloud Atlas, Master & Commander – The Far Side Of The World, An American Haunting, Flashbacks Of a Fool, The Trench
- Oscar Isaacs: X-Men 5, Mojave, Star Wars – The Force Awakens, A Most Violent Year, Ex Machina, In Secret, Two Faces of January, Inside Llewyn Davies, The Bourne Legacy, Drive, Sucker Punch, Body of Lies, Robin Hood (2009)
- Richard Coyle: Grabbers, Pusher (2012), Outpost 2, Prince Of Persia, Franklyn, The Whistleblowers (TV)
- David Harbour: A Walk Amongst The Tombstones, Parkland, Pusher (2012), James Bond – Quantum Of Solace, Revolutionary Road, Awake, Brokeback Mountain
- Judy Parfitt: Dean Spanley, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Ever After, Wilde, Dolores Clairborne, King Ralph, Diamond Skulls, Maurice, The Jewel In The Crown (TV)
- Katie McGrath: Merlin (TV)
- Lawrence Fox: Lewis (TV), Elizabeth I – The Golden Age, Deathwatch, Gosford Park, Dolores Clairborn, The Hole
- Natalie Dormer: Hunger Games- Mocking Jay 2, Hunger Games- Mockingjay, The Riot Club, The Invisible Woman, The Counsellor, Rush (2013), The Tudors (TV)
- Anna Skellern: The Incident, I Give It a Year, Gambit (2012), 7Lives, A Night In The Woods, The Descent 2
- Geoffrey Palmer: Paddington, Run For Your Wife, As Time Goes By (TV), The Pink Panther 2, Peter Pan (2002), Anna & The King, Mrs Brown, Stiff Upper Lips, James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies, The Madness Of King George III, A Fish Called Wanda, A Zed and Two Noughts, Clockwise, Butterflies (TV), Fall and Rise Of Reginald Perrin (TV)
- James Fox: Effie Gray, The Double (2014), Cleanskin, The Kid (2010), Sherlock Holmes (2009), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005), The Prince and Me, Sexy Beast, The Golden Bowl, Mickey Blue Eyes, Anna Karenina (1997), The Remains Of The Day, As You Like It (1992), Patriot Games, Afraid Of The Dark, The Russia House, The Mighty Quinn, Farewell To The King, Passage To India, Greystoke- The Legend Of Tarzan, Performance, The Servant
- Haluk Bilginer: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The International, Eastenders (TV)