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Madonna's W.E.: A visually pleasing film that seriously disappoints Add to ...

Written and directed by Madonna (UK)

If this were a music video, then the visuals would be satisfying enough on their own – gleaming silver, sparkling oceans, glittering jewellery, sensational clothes. But a movie needs a script, too. This one, by Madonna and Alek Keshishian (they previously collaborated on Madonna’s concert doc) starts off promisingly enough, toggling back and forth between the stories of King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) and Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), the divorcée for whom he abdicated the throne; and Wally (Abbie Cornish), a lonely antiques expert in 1998 New York obsessed with the royal tale. And Madonna has a good eye for casting; Riseborough is especially arresting. But the whole thing falls to mush, because the film hasn’t settled on a point of view: Was Wallace and Edward’s a love story for the ages, worthy of Wally’s yearnings, or not? We’ll never know, because the climactic moment is drowned out by flitting images and a pulsing score.

Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m., Roy Thomson; Sept. 13, 2:30 p.m., Elgin.

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