Opening 21 Jun 2012
Manhattan, 1998. Privileged, pretty, and not quite thirty Wally Wintrop (Abbie Cornish) becomes more and more distraught in her marriage to a successful but increasingly hostile husband, psychiatrist William (Richard Coyle). She escapes her desperation by making daily excursions to Sotheby’s, her place of employment before her boorish husband forced her to quit. At Sotheby’s Wally becomes fascinated with the luxury articles from the estate of Wallis Simpson. Wally becomes increasingly obsessed with the life Mrs. Simpson (engagingly played by Andrea Riseborough) and her love affair with the Prince of Wales (James D’Arcy), one of the 20th century’s most scandalous romances. King Edward had fallen madly in love with the twice married and not yet divorced American and had initially expected his subjects to accept her as his wife. But this was 1936 in post-Victorian England. After less than a year as king, Edward abdicated, going down in history as the man who gave up the throne for the women he loved. The two were banned from England, given the titles the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and became notorious as decadent nomads spending the rest of their opulent lives mostly in France.
Disruptive, disjointed flashbacks and even several time-defying meetings between the two Ws (Wally and Wallis) transpire. The E part of the title W.E. refers to Edward and eventually Evgeni (Oscar Isaac), Wally’s cow-eyed love interest, a security guard at Sotheby’s. Hence the name of the film W.E. for Wallis and Edwards meshes into W.E. for Wally and Evgeni. Clever maybe, but who really cares. While there are some endearing moments, such as when Wallis dances the twist for her adoring husband on his deathbed, it seems like this great love story has a dark side. Does the film’s director Madonna want to dispel the myth of eternal love? Wally discovers Wallis Simpson wrote letters whinging she felt trapped and lamenting that no one every realized just what she had had to give up to marry Edward. Judging by the loot at Sotheby’s, not much…… (Pat Frickey)