Causin’ a commotion
It seems strange to say, but Madonna may be struggling to find her voice. The singer’s latest attempt to reinvent herself as a movie director has met with raised eyebrows and a certain amount of scepticism ahead of the world premier of her new film, W.E., at the Venice Film Festival.
We have been on this territory before. Her first foray into film-making was Filth and Wisdom, starring Gogol Bordello’s lead singer, Eugene Hütz. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2008 and received mixed reviews, commonly along the lines of “not as bad as we were expecting from the star of Swept Away”.
Madonna always proffered that her film about three flatmates leading diverse lives in London was her film school, a low-budget testing pad to learn all the whatnots of shooting a movie. Things presumably that her ex-husband the Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie could not pass on to her.
So now we come to W.E., the feature film that Madonna has stated was written before her debut and is the movie she has always wanted to make. Bizarrely, the US distributor of the film, The Weinstein Company, is trying to push the movie as the pop star’s directorial debut rather than as her second movie. The basis of this is absurd: they claim that at 81 minutes, Filth and Wisdom is a short film. There is not one body in the world that classes any film more than 80 minutes long as short. I’d like to hear the conversation where Harvey Weinstein tells Roman Polanski that his competition film Carnage is, at 79 minutes, a short film.
Nonetheless, the message is clear: the singer is now ready to put her head on the chopping block and be assessed as a director. W.E. keeps up Madonna’s love affair with Britain. It tells the story of a New Yorker, Wally Winthrop, who is infatuated with what she believes is the ultimate love story: King Edward VIII marrying the American divorcee Wallis Simpson and giving up the throne. The film jumps back and forth between 1936 and 1998 New York, where Wally has a job working in Sotheby’s Estate House, where there is an auction of royal memorabilia. Unhappy in her marriage to a psychiatrist, Wally falls in love with a mysterious Russian security guard.
The project has been shrouded in much secrecy but what has slipped out about the production doesn’t necessarily bode well. The first hitch came even before film had rolled. The 53-year-old director seemed to have pulled off a coup by castingVera Farmiga, who was Oscar-nominated for Up in the Air, in the role of the American divorcee and Ewan McGregor as Edward
Check the rest of this article on the online website of The Independent. Thanks to Margit.