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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Madonna directs mature, uneven drama; some domestic abuse.

Movie R 2012 118 minutes
W.E. Poster Image

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This is a superficial albeit "pretty" movie about a fascinating love story; it's too bad a better director didn't tackle it. Madonna (who makes her directorial debut with this film) has been very vocal about how personal this project was to her. She became fascinated with the story of Wallis Simpson while herself the divorced American wife of a well-known Englishman in the spotlight, director Guy Ritchie. It's obvious that she's sympathetic toward the American socialite whom the king loved so much that he was willing to abdicate the throne. But W.E.'s contrived framing device (it seems far-fetched that a young married woman would be so single-mindedly obsessed with the Wallis-Edward love affair) and the forced parallels between the two Wallises' lives don't hold up; instead, the movie becomes a two-hour excuse to star at beautiful locations and designs.

In the film, Mrs. Simpson and the king are certainly the more compelling of the two W.E. couples; Riseborough is so enchanting as the stylish but not particularly beautiful Wallis that it's obvious why Edward was so taken with her. Madonna glosses over the unsavory parts of the royal affair, shutting down the long-held rumors that the two were Nazi sympathizers and focusing on the whirlwind romance and how it affected not just the king but Simpson, who was forced to deal with being the most reviled woman in the British Empire, if not the world. As charming as Cornish and Isaac are, the contemporary romance can't compare, and young Wally seems pathetic compared to Wallis until the very end.

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