W.E. was an interesting approach to historically significant events that happened to the House of Windsor. Directed by Madonna, the film parallels the lives of Wallis Simpson and Wally Winthrop. Wally, an abused and lonely housewife, is obsessed with the romance of Wallis Simpson & King Edward VIII. At first, the transitioning between the lives of the two women is confusing and uncomfortable to watch. However, as the film progresses, one realizes the lives of these women are more similar then just their names.
Both women experience love, loss, & loneliness. They sacrifice parts of themselves for the men who they love and pay severely for those sacrifices. Wallis is condemned to a life of scrutiny while Wally is abused physically and mentally. While Wally’s story is fictitious, Wallis is portrayed as quite real and intimate. The viewer watches Edward becoming possessed with Wallis to the point of obsession.
Although the film is titled W.E., Wallis is the primary character in the film. She is brilliantly portrayed by Andrea Riseborough. The role is played not only accurately but entertainingly. Her counterpart in the film, Wally, is portrayed by Abbie Cornish. Unfortunately, her performance paled in comparison to Ms. Riseborough. One may recognize Ms. Cornish as Sir Walter Raleigh’s lover in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Elizabeth was played by Cate Blanchett).
The film is visually stunning with scenes from around the world tracing Wallis & Edward’s footsteps throughout their life together. The viewer is taken on a romantic journey of their love affair. All of this is tied together with a magnificent soundtrack by Abel Korzeniowski.
Incidentally, the obsession Edward has with Wallis closely resembles Henry VIII’s desire to marry Anne Boleyn. While Edward abdicated his throne, Henry broke away from Rome; both claiming their wives and the women they loved.