Madonna arrived in Venice today at the photo call for W.E. along with Andrea Riseborough and Abbie Cornish. I am already obsessed with Andrea Riseborough. Look at that face! Fresh and beguiling, non? And can you believe it’s the same girl you saw in these Vanity Fair photos?

W.E. is a little Julie & Julia. Early word is that Andrea as Wallis Simpson is unquestionably more captivating than Cornish’s modern character. So much so that the Cornish parts seem totally irrelevant. That sucks for Cornish, obviously, but it’s also encouraging that Madonna the director has managed to coax what could be a very memorable performance out of a new emerging star. Have you seen Brighton Rock? I’ve only just remembered Andrea was in Brighton Rock. And I also had no idea that was her in Made in Dagenham. She’s like Jessica Chastain that way. You don’t quite ever recognise her. And this works. It apparently works very, very well in W.E.

So how’s the rest of it? Hilariously the underlying sentiment seems to be that “it doesn’t suck” or, more flatteringly, “it’s better than expected”, and this of course leads you to wonder how bad were the expectations?

Still, everyone acknowledges that it was beautifully shot, and Telegraph notes that there are some witty moments, but that mostly, it was beautifully shot:

It all looks good, or at least glossy, in the manner of high-end cosmetics commercials. Exotic locations (Portofino, Cap d’Antibes) are visited and luxury brand names (Moet, Cartier, Schiaparelli) tossed around. Wally pays repeatedly visits an auction of the Windsors’ possessions; W.E. often feels like an extended infomercial for Sotheby’s New York.

That may be why the Telegraph critic declares that “W.E. may appeal to younger women with an eye for fashion”.

I can’t decide if this is actually a compliment.

And what of the whitewashing? What of the glamourisation of Wallis? Style over substance, has Madonna made that choice? Has she chosen to ignore the more controversial aspects of Simpson’s life, or attribute blame for her poor decisions and opinions onto others? This is how I’m reading Baz Bamigboye’s review between the lines. Baz thinks rather highly of the film. And he also suggests that W.E. might appeal to a “younger audience”.

Because young people won’t bother so much with historical details if the clothing is something to look at?

That disturbs me even more than the sanitising of Simpson. Can’t wait to see how it’ll be received at TIFF. That’s when it really starts to matter.

As for Madonna - she looks so much better and so much younger without all the makeup. But of course, you can’t go on a carpet and not wear makeup. It’s just, makeup on top of all those fillers and shots, the effect is totally crazy. At some point, the plastic surgeons and the cosmetic companies, along with the makeup artists, they have to get together and work this out. They have to develop their products in conjunction, because right now, one undoes the other.

Photos from and Pascal Le Segretain/GIUSEPPE CACACE/