Drew Turney

I’m going to be embarrassed to admit this to everybody after the opinions I’ve read and the critical pounding this film’s received, but I quite liked it. All I can think of that accounts for the outright hatred is the emotional baggage from every other film Madonna’s been associated with.

Some of the criticisms I can understand. The story of Wallis Simpson’s (Riseborough) romance with Prince Edward (D’Arcy) really has no connection with the modern day heroine, Wally (Cornish) and her romantic entanglings with her disinterested, abusive husband and kindly Russian security guard (Isaac). The only link was her intense interest in the tale of their love and Edward’s abdication.

As Wally tries to get pregnant, she wonders whether her husband really wants her any more. To pass the time she spends her days looking at a museum exhibit of Simpson and Edward’s treasures and possessions. At the same time, we see Wallis’ gregarious nature fall further under the handsome King’s spell, leading to the most infamous romance on the early 20th century.

It’s slow moving and pretentious, but every frame is a work of art, the fashion and backdrops all sheer lines and whispering accoutrements. Even the apartment Wally’s new protector owns after her husband takes to her with his fists and she flees is aspirational. Above all the film has a very firm sense of its style, and stylish it is.

But something about the story made me keep watching through to the end, and even if it was the same old tiresome tale of seeing if the boy gets the girl, plenty of far-better received films are just as guilty of that.

Or maybe it was Cornish as Wally I found so fascinating – she’s as beautiful, quiet, refined, demure and chest-clenchingly sexy as her surroundings. Either way it’s another one where you just have to ignore the critics. Or maybe me.

DVD Extras
: Featurette. That be all, Sadly.

Drew Turney

An Australian-based film critic and celebrity interviewer now based in Los Angeles, California.

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