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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.

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