In “W.E,” out Friday, two story lines compete to see which can be more boring. Remarkably, they both win! The dual tales are those of Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough, who is much better than the film) and Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish, who is not). Simpson was the woman for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the throne, relegating himself to the B plot of “The King’s Speech”; Winthrop is a modern-day poor little rich girl obsessed with the couple.
“W.E.” has gotten press because it was directed and co-written by Madonna, who you’d think would have learned something by being married to Guy Ritchie. She does have a singular talent, though — if you like to watch really rich people wearing really nice clothes surrounded by really nice stuff, this is the film for you, assuming you can somehow watch it on mute. You even get a scene of rich people with nice stuff bidding on other rich people’s nice stuff during an auction! Winthrop has Chanel lipsticks scattered on her vanity, the interlocking C’s of the brand’s logo artfully facing the camera. It takes five scenes, and it feels like as many hours, for Edward to give Simpson charms for her bracelet.
“W.E.” is a love story between Madonna, her costumer and her set dresser. If she had applied some of that passion to the walking, talking set pieces, she actually might have had something.