W.E. Movie Review

Madonna takes an ambitious approach to the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII, merging the history-making romance with the story of another woman in modern-day New York. The film is a jarring hodgepodge, but it's also enjoyably watchable.

Named after the notorious Mrs Simpson, Wally (Cornish) is in a 1998 New York auction house examining a vast collection from the life of the British king who gave up the throne for the woman he loved. In swirling flashback, Wally's story is woven in with that of Edward (D'Arcy) and Wallis (Riseborough) in the 20s and 30s, including Wallis' marriages to the violent Win (Hayward) and the accommodating Ernest (Harbour). Meanwhile, Wally is stuck in a cold marriage to William (Coyle) and looked after by a kindly security guard (Isaac).

Based on exhaustive research, the script takes the female perspective, which gives the film a singular angle on the story. At one point, Wally even travels to Paris to read Wallis' private correspondence, clearly recreating the way Madonna found the intimate details. And it's a strong narrative that holds our interest even with the fragmented structure. Less effective are the forced parallels between the two strands and the vast mood swings from cheeky comedy to wrenching violence to political intrigue to sweet romance.

Cornish and Riseborough are terrific as the two Wallises, with Cornish delivering a more introspective, engaging performance while Riseborough chomps marvellously on her cigarette holder, as well as much of the scenery. With the exception of the almost impossibly sexy Isaac and D'Arcy's foppish Edward, the men are all distracted and rather nasty. Although the cruellest character here is Elizabeth (Dormer), aka the Queen Mum, who manipulates her stammering husband Bertie (Laurence Fox) into rejecting his brother.

These details make the movie entertaining, even if we have to put up with melodramatic storytelling and overwrought filmmaking. Sensually designed and shot, Madonna uses film stock from 8mm to 35mm to shift between periods and play with newsreel footage, period settings and a few surreal moments when the two Wallises meet. The film's sheer ambition makes it worth seeing. And by taking a woman's viewpoint, Madonna explores issues most filmmakers pretend don't exist. So even if it's a mess, it still has relevance and resonance.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : Kris Thykier,


W.E. Rating

" OK "

Rating: 15, 2011


More Abbie Cornish

'Robocop' Remake Fails To Distract Critics From 1987 Comparisons

Robocop has failed to impress critics following its release in the US yesterday (12th January). Reviews have primarily focussed on comparisons between the original 1987...

RoboCop Movie Review

There's a robust, intelligent tone to this action remake that makes it continually intriguing, even if it's never properly exciting. The problem is that the...

Klondike Trailer

When news gets round about a gold discovery in the Klondike region of the Yukon, Canada in 1897, it becomes one of the last great...

Robocop (2014) Trailer

Alex Murphy is a hard-working police officer who lives an ordinary life with his beautiful wife Clara and young son David. However, his life is...


The First Trailer For The 'RoboCop' Reboot Doesn't Look As Bad As You Might Expect [Trailer]

Joel Kinnaman will star as Alex Murphy/RoboCop in the upcoming reboot of cult 80's action movie RoboCop. This, like sop many other recent reboots, was...

Seven Psychopaths Movie Review

Martin McDonagh gleefully plays with both the gang thriller genre and the moviemaking process with this enjoyably absurd action comedy. It's a little self-indulgent, acknowledging...

Seven Psychopaths Trailer

Marty is a budding screenwriter in LA with hopes of completing his major screenplay 'Seven Psychopaths' but involuntarily gets mixed up in his friends Hans...

W.E. Trailer

In 1998 came the news that the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor was to be auctioned off. No one was more interested...