Feature

W.E.

Madonna's second film tells the story of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson along with a parallel love story set in 1990s Manhattan.

Directed by Madonna(R)

★

You can’t call the Madonna-directed W.E. a “total disaster,” said Andrew O’Hehir in Salon​.com. It’s a “reasonably watchable and mostly non-narrative curiosity.” But it’s also “too nonsensical” to be taken seriously. The pop star’s second stab at directing tells parallel stories: In one, Britain’s King Edward VIII abdicates his throne in 1936 to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson; in the other, a married woman named after Simpson falls in love with a security guard in 1990s Manhattan. Because “Madonna borrows heavily from the music-video form she has already mastered,” the movie is nice to look at, said Karina Longworth in The Village Voice. “It’s basic storytelling that stymies her”: She focuses too much on the dull fictional story and imbues the proceedings with “an anything-is-possible anti-logic.” Perhaps “calling W.E. a film gives Madonna and her collaborators too much credit,” said Nathan Rabin in the A.V. Club. It’s more like “a perfume commercial that doesn’t know when to end.” Expensive, “blindingly slick” production values can’t hide the movie’s “fundamental emptiness.”

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