Madonna’s film “W.E.,” which focuses on the relationship between King Edward VIII and the divorced American Wallis Simpson, has been panned by many but has also found some support from critics after premiering at the Venice Film Festival this week.
The reviews range from absolutely scathing to warmly positive. Ian Brooks of The Guardian ripped the film, giving it one out of five stars and lamenting that Simpson was “defiled, humiliated, made to look like a joke.” Many critics expressed frustration at the film’s visually arresting style yet perceived lack of substance. Variety’s Leslie Felperin noted that “Madonna’s sophomore feature doesn’t have much going for it apart from lavish production design and terrific, well-researched costumes” while Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter admitted, “W.E. is as easy on the eyes and ears as it is embalmed from any dramatic point of view.”
But not all critics disliked the film. David Gritten of The Telegraph was pleasantly surprised, noting that “W.E. is rather better than expected; it’s bold, confident and not without amusing moments.” Baz Bamigboye was even more cheery in The Daily Mail, challenging those who hated the film that “if they were to watch it with no knowledge of who directed, they would be pleasantly surprised. They might even find much of it enjoyable.”
The 53 year-old singer addressed similarities between “W.E.” and “The King’s Speech,” which also featured Edward VIII. However, Madonna was confident that her film was quite different, stating, “I saw [‘The King’s Speech’] and I saw that it was from a completely different point of view.” She also expressed thanks to her ex-husbands and directors Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, declaring that their support and advice helped inspire her latest work.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear this expert guidance worked out exactly as Madonna may have hoped.