Entertainment & Arts

Madonna royal biopic receives mixed reviews at Venice

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Media captionMadonna and her cast attend the premiere of W.E. at Venice

Madonna's film W.E., about US divorcee Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, has received mixed reviews at the Venice Film Festival.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the royal biopic is "better than expected" and "not without amusing moments".

But the Guardian dismissed the film as "a primped and simpering folly".

Variety was also scornful, saying that while it had "lavish production design" it was "burdened with risible dialogue and weak performances".

Yet Screen Daily was more positive, describing it as "a beautifully staged film punctuated with nuggets of charm and style".

Speaking to the press in the Italian city, the 53-year-old said she had "identified" with the woman blamed for the 1936 abdication crisis.

"I think it's very common when people become celebrities or public figures or icons that we are often reduced to a soundbite.

"You're given a few attributes and then you're not allowed to have anything more than that," added the singer and film-maker.

Madonna said her ex-husbands - movie directors Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie - had encouraged her creative ambitions and been "very supportive".

She added that any initial worries about being pre-empted by The King's Speech - which also touched upon Edward VIII's abdication - soon dissipated.

"I thought, 'oh dear, if someone else is making a movie about the same time-frame, then who would be interested in my movie?'" she told reporters.

"But then I saw the film and I saw that it was from a completely different point of view.

"I view the success of that film as sort of laying the groundwork for my movie. There is a little bit of history and a little bit of knowledge and we are not starting with a blank slate."

Writing for the Daily Mail, showbusiness columnist Baz Bamigboye said W.E. was "exquisitely done" but was sure to be divisive because of Madonna's involvement.

"It also happens to be one of the best-dressed movies of the year," he adds. "The costumes, as you would expect from the original material girl, are eye-popping."

Britain's Andrea Riseborough portrays Simpson in Madonna's second outing behind the camera, which had its official Venice premiere on Thursday evening.

Roman Polanski's new film Carnage has also had its premiere on the Lido, Venice's sea-facing island and base for the annual 10-day festival.

The director did not travel to Venice to attend the event, though the film's stars - Kate Winslet, John C Reilly and Christoph Waltz - did walk the traditional red carpet.

"If Roman Polanski invites you to join in any project, you really don't say no," Winslet told reporters on Thursday.

Based on the Yasmina Reza play God of Carnage, the film tells of two New York couples brought together after their children are involved in a playground brawl.

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