W.E. (♦♦♦½)

Wally Winthrop, a young New Yorker, has given up her career at Sotheby’s to marry a prominent doctor and start a family, but her hopes of having a child soon begin to fade when she notices that her husband William has a roving eye. Wally, always fascinated by Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII’s love story, begins to frequent Sotheby’s again when she learns that things that belonged to her idols are going to be auctioned. Wally finds an admirer at Sotheby’s: Evgeni, a young Russian immigrant who works there as a security officer. When William finally reaches his breaking point, he sets in motion a series of events that will make Wally realize her dreams.

I was interested in this movie in part because it is a sister story of The King’s Speech. I was hesitant to watch it though because it was directed by Madonna. What good could it come from a film directed by Madonna, right? Wrong. I was pleasantly surprised! W.E. is haunting, the story of an enduring and all consuming love affair that forced a king to abdicate for the woman he loved. We hear of what Edward VIII gave up for Wallis, yet we never hear her side of the story; this is an attempt to explore her side and see how it was to walk in her shoes from the moment she met him.

W.E. is very well acted, especially by Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch) in the main role. The story takes time to unfold yet it’s never boring. It is a seductive mystery because the audience gets trapped in the parallelisms between Wally and Wallis Simpson’s love lives.

W.E. is profanity free and the sex scenes are done with great care, even the violent ones.

The narration is not linear, and that bothered me a little at the beginning as the characters were introduced, but once the initial shock went away it was easy to follow the story. The costumes are splendid, the music superb. Nothing is left to chance; this is a carefully crafted film.

Madonna directed, co-wrote the script and produced a movie that it’s a gem, even more so because it was her first directorial effort. I hope she makes more movies like this one.