W.E. Blu-ray Review
In 1936, King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) abdicated the throne to be with the American woman he was in love with, Mrs. Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough). This great romantic gesture is the primary focus in W.E., a film written and directed by Madonna. Looking into their romance through the eyes of present day Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish), a New York City socialite trapped in an isolated marriage who becomes obsessed with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson) when pieces of their estate are up for auction at Sotheby’s. Using the exclusive auction to integrate flashbacks to Wallis Simpson’s life, we are transported back and forth whenever Wally’s daydreaming is interrupted by an attentive Sotheby’s security guard, Evgeni (Oscar Issac).
W.E. could have been a beautifully crafted look into the controversial love affair, giving us a different perspective; the romance from the Duchess of Windsor’s viewpoint. What an interesting storyline that could have been all on its own! Unfortunately, Madonna takes us on an unnecessary ride with the present day story. Did she do this to show the choices between a life of passionate desperate love and that of stability and isolation? Was the Duke and Duchess’s Parisian exile too boring so some present day drama was added into the mix? Whatever the reasons were, the duality of the two W.E. storylines felt forced.
Ignoring my issues with the storyline, I rather enjoyed the attention to detail with set design and costuming. From past to present day, each frame was flawless; highlighting Mrs. Simpson’s exquisite style. They even managed to make smoking look beyond glamorous, to the point I almost went out to pick up a pack. It is no surprise that this film received an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design and won the Costume Designer’s Guild Award for Excellence in Costume Design for Film – Period. The score throughout the film is hauntingly beautiful, well deserving of the Golden Globe nomination. Madonna’s original song for the film took home the Golden Globe but, to be honest, it did not impact me the same as the score.
Never fully connecting to her character, Abbie Cornish’s take on Wally Winthrop was diluted, outside of her storyline. She excelled in assorted scenes but for the most part, it was lacking. I don’t know if it is the writing, directing or acting that I should blame but overall I was unimpressed with her portion of the picture. Luckily, the saving grace of Andrea Riseborough’s interpretation of Wallis was, in a word, marvelous. Seeing Riseborough tackle the icon from 1930s to 1970s was impressive and natural. A perfect casting decision! D’Arcy did an excellent job portraying the Duke; as expressed earlier, I would have liked to have seen more of the two together, their struggles and to see more of their chemistry. Speaking of, it was a shame that Cornish’s chemistry with Issac’s Evgeni was very one-sided. You could feel the attraction radiating from Evgeni and the hurt he felt when thinking of his deceased wife.
If you want to be inspired for fashion and get lost listening to a beautiful score, you have found your film. If you want to be entertained or enjoy your movie watching experience, this is one to skip.
Video (Widescreen 2.40:1): Sharp colors and crisp pictures highlight the amazing costumes in W.E. beautifully.
Audio (5.1 DTS HD Master Audio): The audio for W.E. was horrible. The score was too loud, the voices too soft. Throughout the film I was in a constant battle with the volume adjustments. Very surprising and disappointing.
The Making of W.E. Featuring Madonna (22:36): This is a typical making of featurette, lots of praise for cast, crew, Madonna and so on. Mildly entertaining.