Her Madgesty: First Review of Madonna's Wallis Simpson Movie W.E at the Venice Film Festival

01/09/2011 17:50 BST | Updated 01/11/2011 09:12 GMT

Madonna and Wallis Simpson have much in common. Twice divorced, scandalous Americans

exiled to London, who both seem to abide by Wallis's famous advice, "you can never be too rich or too thin."

Where Wallis and Madonna slightly veer off the road is over love. King Edward VIII gave up his throne for Wallis; Guy Ritchie only made Swept Away for Madge. It doesn't quite tally up.

It's this love which Madonna explores in W.E. which she presented at the Venice Film Festival today looking not a day over 35. No wonder, as with Wallis, we're tempted to refer to her through gritted teeth as 'that woman.'

So what makes a man throw away his supposed raison d'etre all for the sake of a woman ?

The answer seems to be when he didn't much want the day job anyway.

James D'Arcy, playing the King, clings to the brilliant Andrea Riseborough's Wallis like she's the last piece of driftwood heading for shore.

Wallis, combining the looks of Scarlett O' Hara, the wit of Dorothy Parker and the drawl of Jerry Hall (not to mention her practical approach to life that comes from marrying a schmuck first time round) is an immensely arresting fashion plate.

The movie is at its best when Madonna lets her own rebellious nature sneak in - like when Wallis walks down the street with crucifixes at her wrist and her hair arranged into horns.

It's a reminder that Wallis really was the devil to some in 1936 - especially to the Queen Mother. Natalie Dormer, cast as her, can only channel the spite of Anne Boleyn (who she played in 'The Tudors') and the frumpiness of a Malory Towers prefect.

What this isn't is the 'Anti Kings Speech', a drama biopic that'll have Brits sobbing into their handkerchiefs with World War Two emotion.

It's a love story told in flashbacks, interwoven with a modern day New York tale of a marriage breakdown. It's as if 'The Great Gatsby' took a shopping trip to 'Sex and The City'.

Madonna says she spent three years co-writing the film. It shows. It's over complicated by the modern day tale, and at the end, drifts into a hideously hammy meeting with a Mohammed Al Fayed impersonator.

Even the exquisite shots feel laboured. It's like Madonna is screaming "look at me! I am an artist!" when we all know that a woman who can put her legs round the back of her neck and pull Jesus Luz is amazing.

What 'W.E.' sets us up for is an in-depth biopic on this tantalizing and extraordinary woman, Wallis Simpson. The most telling scene is when Wallis dances for her prince to the tune of the Sex Pistols' 'Pretty Vacant.'

Its anarchy echoes the sight of another woman writhing around in her slip in front of a statue of Jesus.

The only real difference between them is that Madge will never be climbing down from her throne.