Cinema with Sharlette: 'W.E.'

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It’s been nearly a year since the Oscar domination of The King’s Speech and the massive media attention surrounding the Royal Wedding. Now, with awards pouring in for Madonna’s romantic drama, W.E., it seems as though we are forever intrigued by the rich stories behind Buckingham Palace.

W.E. follows the historical account of the highly controversial, romantic relationship between Edward the VIII and American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Their story mirrors the start of a contemporary romantic relationship between Wally Wintnthrop, an abused married woman and Evgeni, a Russian Security officer.

The setting of a Simpson exhibit in New York serves as a link between ongoing connection between Simpson and Winthrop. The story of Edward and
Simpson is often highlighted by the decisions of Edward, and what he gave up for Simpson. But in this version, we witness the joys and the turmoil Simpson endured by her decision to remain loyal to the King.

It is no surprise that Madonna has an eye for elegance and beauty. The music and composition to the fashion and the very story itself, Madonna’s tasteful signature is laced throughout the entire film. It is a mixture of Contemporary and Classic Hollywood Cinema; a technique used to bounce back and forth from 1930’s England to the end of 20th century Manhattan.

However at times the switch between the periods was too quick, making it difficult to connect with either couple. The affair of the modern romance had a tendency to be slow and drawn out.

The story presents itself with the assumption that the viewer is already familiar with the full story Edward and Simpson. This disconnect is also driven by a lack of character development. British actress, Andrea Riseborough is a stand-out in her excellent portrayal of Simpson. We finally have a chance to feel sympathy for
Simpson, depicted not as a woman who stole the King, but as a woman who did everything she could to better the circumstances for the man she adored.

This is only the second feature by Madonna, the visions captured in this film would allude that she had been directing for years.

Despite a few minor romantic clichés like the initials of all the major characters’ names and the over usage of Henry Mancini’s Lujon, Madonna still manages to depict the message of freedom and female empowerment. Madonna is definitely establishing herself as a worthy contender for cinema achievement.