KATHMANDU: Ironically the quote from Queen Victoria came down the generations and was written on two mirrors by an American divorcee who married Edward who gave up his Empire for her. Rich stuff and they were the darling of tabloids at the time (1937 to 1972). The trade-off was considered to be shabby. Many years later copying the Duchess of Windsor (when Edward gave up his throne, he and Wally became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor) partying in noble houses all over the world and on one occasions we see Wally set her hat on Edward by writing W.E. on mirrors in lipstick and rubbing them off.
Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) is of a present day character. Wally Winthrop of New York is fascinated who goes and haunts the display at Sotheby’s auction house where the Windsor’s’ possessions are being sold.
She’s noticed by a smooth Sotheby’s security guard named Evgeni (Oscar Isaac), and they feel an immediate sexual tension. There are no expository scenes explaining how the stories of the two women are intended to connect; but obviously they must, because director Madonna and the writers bridge time and space to have them actually meet and discuss things they have found to be true.
W.E. is an elegant and ambitious film. Its period details seem authentic, its casting of historical figures (King George V, Queen Mary, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and even Al Fayed) is convincing, and its visual style is mannered to project effortless continuity. Everyone is too restrained and discreet to expose themselves too much. So “veddy veddy” British.
The movie’s climax (and it is handled well) comes at a formal dinner party when Wallis calls Edward “David,” his semi-secret family name; of course she shouldn’t know it and still less should she use it in public. The king had ripped her dress by catching it under the leg of his chair, and what delicious irony that their great public scene should be inspired by her fashionable clothing.
The more you bring to W.E. the more you will take away from it. Unlike the popular The King’s Speech, which involves Edward’s brother George becoming King George VI, W.E. doesn’t make things clear as it goes along. These are the kinds of people for whom so much goes without saying that there’s hardly anything left to say. I suppose the monotonous tone of the spoken dialogue may be accurate; the Duke and Duchess don’t seem to be demonstrative. Were they witty? They might have been witty. I remember the character who plays Edward (James D’Arcy) saying at a dinner table, “I thought I was the richest man in England” when someone else said he was.
There are some delightful scenes as when they are still courting Edward chose to give a gift Wallis in Italy and when he gives her gift after gift strangely they are all crosses.
Towards the end we see the two Wallises meet on a park bench. Real or fantasy? You were warned to come to this movie bringing as much as you wanted to take away. Forgotten voices in rooms. A pair of gloves auctioned at $10,000 and bought by Abbie Cornish only to be given to the Duchess on the park bench. Cryptic talk between the two ladies. It’s all there waiting for you to view especially if like me you’re a Royal family faddist and remember when Wallis Simpson said, “You can never be too rich or too thin” and in a moment self pity said, “We’ve become the world’s best known parasites” to her husband Edward. It’s a fascinating story.