W.E as in Wallis & Edward. After being wowed with the King’s Speech a year ago, this felt like the next instalment about one of Britain’s most famous and fascinating stories. It’s interesting that the Kings Speech, which is about Edwards’ brother who succeeded him to the throne after his abdication had an immediate Oscar buzz whereas this, this about the actual events that lead to that, told from the view point of Wallis Simpson, has of course, had none.
Another twist to this film is that there is second modern day story running through, of Walli, a New York housewife who is named after and obsessed with Mrs S to the point of visiting the Sotheby’s auction house daily when the former royal couple’s goods are finally for sale. Walli is (for some reason) married to a successful, abusive, philandering doctor who insists on her not working in the auction house but now refuses to have the child she is desperate for.
The film easily moves between the stories, one set in a 30s British royal household and the other in a well to do modern Manhattan apartment and picks up on synergy between the two women; they are both child free yet broody and both abused by their first husbands. The gruesome beatings are incredibly hard to watch; I had to cover my eyes and we learn much later that Mrs S cannot bear children due to the abuse during her first marriage that meant losing an unborn child.
There are lots of chronicles running through; including, what I feel is the lesser story of the friendship that Walli strikes up with a Sotheby’s security guard when her marriage is crumbling. The one liners that come from Mrs S throughout are divine but it’s only towards the end that we really delve into her feelings about what she has lost in order to spend the rest of her life with Edward, much of it in exile.
Beautifully told and shot, the film has me gripped throughout and is utterly watchable.
Smile factor 910
I really must add a little thing about film critics – or rather those people who decide to see a film based purely on what one person has said about it. Someone – or hundreds of people have put their blood, sweat and tears – not to mention money – in making it. If you like the idea of the film, I suggest you go and make your own mind up rather than letting anyone influence your decision.