The story of the affair between American divorcee Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) is a back drop to Wally Winthrop’s (Abbie Cornish) own unhappy marriage as she spends her time looking at a collection of items related to Wallis Simpson.
W.E. bounces back and forth between Wallis Simpson’s and Prince Edward’s affair and marriage in the 1930’s and to 1998 where Wally is in an abusive marriage to William (Richard Coyle) a distant man who spends more time working at the hospital than with his wife and when he does see her, he verbally and physically attacks. Wally loses herself in the world of Wallis Simpson and spends her days in an auction house looking at all this memorabilia, there she meets Russian security guard Evgeni (Oscar Isaac) and they strike up an unlikely friendship.
If W.E. had been solely focussed on Wallis Simpson’s story, it might have been a half decent film. Unfortunately it keeps returning to Wally and her obsession with Wallis Simpson which is bordering on the ridiculous in 1998 who you don’t find yourself caring about at all. Back in the 1930’s there’s a few moments that are interesting like any scene featuring Prince George (Lawrence Fox) and Elizabeth (Natalie Dormer) are nice and it’s great seeing their relationship and their relationship with Edward and Wallis.
W.E. is a very slow film with scenes that feel awkward and out of place. Wallis Simpson dancing to the Sex Pistols while a Charlie Chaplin film is being projected behind her has to be seen to be believed. It is just not good. That being said, the period costume and locations are quite beautiful but the beauty can’t distract you from a dull story.
The performances throughout W.E. aren’t that great either. They all do the best with what they’re given but the script is so cliché that there’s not much they can do to make the film interesting. Really the problem with W.E. – besides from being a dull film – is that nothing stands out, there’s nothing memorable about it and it can’t even be counted as a “so bad it’s good” kind of film.
W.E. is a dreary affair and while the segments set in the 1930’s look pretty, nothing can save this film from being really rather boring. 1/5.