Word from the Venice Film Festival is that the new Madonna-directed film, WE, is pretty ghastly. Madonna makes very liberal use of the truth, or the truth as it’s generally accepted. In fact, as she says in an interview, that she “wasn’t interested in making a straight-forward bio-pic” and that it’s her “point of view, after digesting all of the information and doing all of the years of research…” So she uses the story of a young woman named Wally to tell the story, going back and forth in time a la Julie & Julia, because the truth is subjective. Madonna said that she used the success of The King’s Speech as “laying the groundwork for her film”.
Here’s the Guardian’s hilarious take on Madonna and the film, with a link to Xan Brooks’ scathing review, including a clip of Madonna’s press conference in Venice where’s she’s dressed in an approximation of Wallis herself.
Appearance: Ghost of Gaga Yet to Come.
What has she done? She's directed a hilarious new film.
What's it called? W.E.
About what? Wallis Simpson.
You mean the loud American girl in The King's Speech? That's her.
What makes her film-worthy? Well, for one thing King Edward VIII abdicated to marry her. Then there are the divorces, her notorious love of clothes, jewels and wealth and the accusations of Nazi sympathies.
I guess. She's not exactly an obvious subject for a comedy, though, is she? Oh, the film's not supposed to be funny: it's a period drama. It's just laughably bad. At least according to the critics. The first screening, at this year's Venice film festival, had the audience rolling in the aisles.
What's so funny about it? Various things, not least the fact that Simpson's story is told in parallel with the story of a woman in 1990s New York, who, in the words of our reviewer Xan Brooks, "is obsessed by the woman to a degree that struck me as deeply worrying, but which Madonna presents as evidence of impeccable good taste". Oh, and sometimes Simpson's ghost visits the woman in the 1990s.
Any stand-out scenes? So glad you asked. As it happens, yes, one scene has made a particularly lasting impression: an extended dream sequence in which Edward spikes the drinks of his royal entourage, causing an intoxicated Wallis to leap on stage and dirty dance with a Maasai tribesman.
Did that actually happen? Almost definitely not, and if it had, they certainly wouldn't have danced, as they do in the film, to the Sex Pistols' hit Pretty Vacant. Which, while admittedly an anachronistic choice, does sum up just about every review the film's received.
Do say: "It's the film The King's Speech could have been."
Don't say: "Like a virgin, touching a camera for the very first time."As the Guardian also says, “It is certainly a slightly revisionist take on the story, with Edward coming across as a frustrated social reformer demanding better housing for the poor before sipping another gin martini.” Said the Guardian’s film critic of Madonna’s last directorial effort, film-goers were “in a state of clinical shock, deathly pale and mewing like maltreated kittens" after watching it.
However, I do understand that the costuming is spectacular, and from what I saw in the most recent Vanity Fair spread about the film, the clothes and sets are wonderful.