Posts Tagged ‘W.E.’

Tackling the ‘royal’ W.E. RICHARD CROUSE METRO CANADA Published: January 26, 2012

1d1c0c5aa940262cffff91e3ffffe417Actress Andrea Riseborough has no time to be intimidated by co-workers, even when they are world-famous icons.

“Making a movie is no small feat,” she says, “and there is so little time and you can enter into something being paralyzed by fear or you can just experience it.”

She’s referring to being directed by Madonna in W.E., a film that mixes-and-matches a modern day New York tale with the scandalous 1930s love affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII. “I didn’t know her personally,” she says of the singer-turned-director.

“I went to meet her and was taken aback at her ultimate passion for wanting to tell the story. That was really what ignited me.”

“When she sent me the script I read it and thought it was totally unique in the sense that it existed in the surreal. There are two time frames intertwined with one another and I found that really unique.”

She says as the project started she had only a peripheral idea about Wallis Simpson, the American socialite whose husband, Prince Edward, abdicated his throne to marry her. Wallis was, says the actress, “a still image, unmoving.”

That picture soon started coming to life, but it took some time for both director and actress to flesh a real character out of Wallis’s life. “We were really quite complicit from the outset in terms of who we might discover this woman to be,” Riseborough says.

“Neither of us really knew yet. We knew what we had researched but that really is the suit that you then have to unzip and forget about. (Madonna) talks about trusting the DNA being within you but not being a slave to it.”

The result sheds some light on why the story of the divorcee and the king still resonates with people almost 80 years after the event.

“It’s interesting for us all to question why we find it such a fascination that the king might give up his throne for someone who’s not terribly beautiful,” she says.


20120113-news-madonna-we-london-premiere-report-uk-posterIn recent years filmmakers haven’t been content to simply tell one story. Recently Steven Soderbergh semi-successfully wove together a multitude of storylines to create the germ-o-phobic tapestry of “Contagion,” and “360” sees Antony Hopkins leading a mind bogglingly large cast of characters vying for screen time.

Madonna is a little less ambitious in “W.E.,” melding only two stories together. But you know what? It’s still one too many.

Cutting between 1990s New York and the scandalous 1930s love affair between Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) that shook the world, the film struggles to make a connection between the two story threads.

In New York Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) is a desperate housewife, the wife of a doctor who becomes obsessed with the decades old love story. She visits Sotheby’s every day, admiring the Simpson artifacts up for auction. There she meets a handsome security guard (Oscar Isaac) who helps her see happiness through her fog of depression.

Running parallel to this is Simpson’s story.

If you squint, and look very closely you may be able to find a thread of logic that connects these two stories, but as presented it’s a stretch. The Winthrop story is simply tiresome and takes away from the historical aspect of the story, which, in light of the recent success of “The King’s Speech,” might have worked as a love story.

Certainly it doesn’t work as an historical piece. It is sumptuously laid out and shot, but Madonna (who also co-wrote the script) seems content to ignore Simpson’s Nazi sympathies and some of the unseemly aspects of her relationship with Edward. Nonetheless Andrea Riseborough as Simpson and James D’Arcy as Edward acquit themselves quite well, it’s just a pity they don’t have a more focused movie to showcase their talents.