Wallis Simpson and Edward VII in Madonna's "W.E."
Anyone can tell you if a trailer "looks good" or not. But Drew Magary, who spent over a decade working in advertising, is here to tell you whether or not a trailer WORKS. This week's trailer? "W.E.".
At long last, we at Trailer Park have finally been able to get a look at Madonna's directorial debut, "W.E." Now, we all know that Madonna is a horrible actress. But hey, so is Sofia Coppola, and I don't see anyone complaining about her skillz behind the camera (except for me, because I hated "Lost in Translation"). "W.E." has thus far received a tepid reception at film festivals in London, Toronto, and Venice. But her Madgesty deserves a fair shake, and so I'm going to OPEN MY HEART and see if Madonna turns the key. Let's watch the trailer and answer a few questions.
Does the trailer let us know what the movie's about? Yes. This movie is about Wallis Simpson, the married lady who fell into an affair with King Edward VIII of England, who abdicated the throne so that he could be with her forever. That sounds totally romantic, except that I already saw "The King's Speech" and it turns out that the whole thing was really kind of creepy and gross. And who's gonna argue with the veracity of that film? It won an Oscar, people!
Does the lady playing Wallis kinda look like Madonna? She does! She has Madonna's mouth and everything. Kinda weird, actually. Give credit to Madonna director for knowing that Madonna the actress lacked the skills necessary for the role. But I do worry about Andrea Riseborough, who seems to act like she's Madonna acting in that part. That's not a good sign.
Is there a totally unnecessary parallel storyline set in modern days? Yes. Abbie Cornish is some gal who finds Simpson's letters to her boytoy and rediscovers all kinds of neat things about the relationship. This is clearly the "Julie" portion of the film, and everyone hated the Julie portion of "Julie and Julia."
Does the trailer make it explicit that this movie is directed by Madonna? NO. You only see that at the end. So if you had no idea about the movie before you saw this trailer, you'd see her name at the end of the credits and be like HOLY SMOKES! MADONNA?! They did the right thing to underplay her contributions, because who goes to a movie just because Madonna directed it? NO ONE.
Is there sex? I think so! You get some hand-on-leg shots, plus a shot of Riseborough undoing her dress. You even get a pearl necklace ripped off. No bout of passion is complete without a ripped-off pearl necklace. Look for Madonna to be PROVOCATIVE.
Do we get lots of newspaper shots that tell you how scandalous this all was? We do. But did Simpson get a fair shake? This movie seems to imply that she didn't. But again, I refer you to "The King's Speech." A TROLLOP IS A TROLLOP.
Does this trailer work? No. I think this trailer is hurt by a distinctive lack of star power. Cornish and Riseborough are relatively unknown quantities, and the trailer itself feels cold and remote. It keeps telegraphing the romance and scandal of it all without ever making you feel it. That's a rough sell when people can watch "Downton Abbey" at home for free.