A quick return to the blog with good reason: I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the remarkably scathing reviews of Madonna’s “W.E.” out of Venice. So much so that I’m actually more excited to see the film than when I suspected it might be slightly better than mediocre. A camp classic seems born! And no review has made me more certain of this than Shane Danielsen’s deliciously mean take here at indieWIRE:
And then there was Madonna’s “W.E.” Which has to be seen to be believed, since even the most well-chosen words falter before its galactic-level awfulness. Yet there I was, like everybody else, positively glued to my seat throughout. Not since Lee Daniels’ “Shadowboxer” have I seen something so utterly wretched on every level, yet so absolutely compelling. From its script, packed with howlers (“Well, if it isn’t Sotheby’s favorite ex-researcher! How’s it been going since you married that hotshot doctor of yours, huh? Mrs. Married Lady.”), to production design so fussy and overwrought it made “A Single Man” look like Loach’s “Ladybird, Ladybird.” It’s a new high-camp classic—like “Johnny Guitar,” except without the talent.
Few things are as grating as bad taste masquerading as good taste, and there is a lot of that here. But whatever you do, don’t accuse its maker of being shallow. No, this is a film with Something To Say: Specifically, that Edward and Mrs. Simpson were IN NO WAY Nazi sympathizers.
This, despite a wealth of historical evidence to the contrary, including but not limited to: their post-abdication visit to Berlin in October 1937, during which both Edward and Wallis gave Nazi salutes to Hitler (curiously unmentioned here, despite the wealth of flashbacks and shifts in locale); FBI records from 1941 showing that Wallis had maintained regular contact throughout the previous year with Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, one of her former lovers; and Edward’s rather injudicious decision, after settling some civil unrest in Nassau during his brief tenure as Governor of the Bahamas, to blame the strife on communists and “men of Central European Jewish descent.” (Wallis, meanwhile, though depicted here dancing gaily with A Black at a party, was more succinct about the local population, calling them “lazy, thieving niggers.”)
So: inept, gauche and mendacious. In this light, Madonna’s decision to thank, in the closing credits, both John Galliano and, I kid you not, Leni Riefenstahl (whose name she misspelt) makes a kind of sense. Edward and Wallis were “the greatest love story of the 20th century,” she would have us believe. But that whole Nazi thing? It is a problem.
This is gonna be amaaazing.
Read the whole piece here.