A dramatization of the events surrounding King Edward VIII‘s abdication of the British throne to marry two-time American divorcee Wallis Simpson, “W.E.” marks the second appearance of Simpson in film in 2011. The controversial figure appeared earlier in “The King’s Speech.”
Speaking at the festival (via HuffPo), Madonna says she chose the subject because she identifies with Wallis.
“I think once you become famous, you have to pretty much relinquish the idea that people are going to see you for who you are, or look beyond the surface of things,” she says. “I think that was a source of great frustration for Wallis Simpson and for Edward VIII, because after he abdicated, they didn’t really have the opportunity to defend themselves… hopefully, I have been able to do that for Wallis Simpson through my film.”
So far, critics don’t seem to think she has. Early reviews for “W.E.,” which are largely negative, linger on the unflattering portrait Madonna paints.
“The woman is defiled, humiliated, made to look like a joke,” writes Gaurdian critic Xan Brooks. “The fact that ‘W.E.’ comes couched in the guise of a fawning, servile snow-job only makes the punishment feel all the more cruel.”
“W.E.” sees its theatrical release in the U.S. on Dec. 9.