Almost exactly a year after they released The King's Speech, The Weinstein Company will release what some are calling "the anti-King's Speech." Madonna's new directoral effort, W.E., tells the story of Edward VIII's romance and abdication from a sympathetic point of view.
I find this fascinating, because if the folks at TWC are hoping to ride the coattails of their Best Picture winner's success, they're doing it in a very strange way -- by more or less trashing the same characters (Edward's brother and sister-in-law, George VI and Elizabeth) that they made America fall in love with last year. From empathizing with George VI's struggles and sacrifices, we're now supposed to switch gears and root for his brother who was off gallivanting with a married woman.
I'm guessing that this move is almost certain to backfire. And the negative buzz that W.E. received after its Venice debut bears me out.
King's Speech screenwriter David Seidler opines, "I don’t believe it for a moment that [the story of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson] was the greatest love story ever told. I think it was the most selfish love story ever told." Of course, Seidler has a vested interest here. But he also has a point. Though Madonna is trying to paint the film as a story of great sacrifice, it's really the story of a man who couldn't see beyond his own interests and didn't care about his country's need for a strong leader. And if audiences pick up on that -- and if, as I'm expecting, W.E. is as big a flop as The King's Speech was a success -- maybe there's hope that, even in this culture of entitlement, people do still understand the difference between selfish love and true selflessness.