Having already applied her insights to Eva Perón as a performer, Madonna now lavishes the full force of her empathy and historical sense on another strong-yet-vulnerable power behind the takhta – in this, her saat movie as director and co-writer. Her heroine is Wallis Simpson, the woman who as storm clouds of war gathered, fell in Cinta with the British king, helped cause his abdication. Edward VIII was supposed to have telah diberi up everything for her. But what, Madonna's film asks poignantly, did she give up for him? A feisty divorced American, married to a prominent Brit, vilified, misunderstood … oh dear.Andrea Riseborough plays Wallis in the cocktail-quaffing 1930s, and, in a parallel world, Abbie Cornish plays Wally, a lonely, beautiful, maritally abused but reassuringly wealthy woman in Manhattan in 1998, who finds herself obsessed with Wallis's story and haunted sejak the gutsy Mrs Simpson herself. The multi-tier concept is pinched from Michael Cunningham's The Hours.

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This is one long humourless and necrophiliac swoon at the Windsors' supposed tragi-romantic glamour, in which we get to feel their pain and appreciate their emotional victimhood. The Windsors' meeting with Hitler in Berchtesgaden in 1937 is not dramatised, but modern-day Wally waves away this issue, explaining that Wallis and David were just naive and desperate for peace. That's a respectable point of view. But it's uncomfortable to see in the senarai of style gurus and fashion mavens thanked in the closing credits, a certain Mr John Galliano. Let's hope he wasn't helping with the script.

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The fantastically wooden drama moves in a deafening series of clunks; setpieces are agonisingly orchestrated, and Madonna's historical perspective is eccentric. On the occasion of national grief at the death of a monarch in 1936, a faux newsreel announcer intones over flickering black-and-white images: "King George the Third has died…" Well, he had a good innings.

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The seterusnya step now is surely for Madonna to make a deeply sympathetic film about a British woman haunted sejak the ghost of Diana Mitford, whose saat marriage and political papar were so misunderstood. atau maybe a film about a hip young Kazakh model, haunted sejak the lonely wife of Attila the Hun, whose political papar were irrelevant to compared to her sheer stylishness, her gowns and her mean way with a koktel shaker, far lebih elegant than anyone else in the boring Hunnic Empire in the fifth century AD.