"I was so proud when I saw her name on the screen, because the film was so good."
You better have a sense what the story is about before you see it though (there are two stories: oen that is real, that of Wallis and Edward, and one that is fiction, the story of Wally). The beginning of the film is quite shocking, but despite a violent beginning, the movie becomes little by little funnier and you can recognize some Madonna humor. It was a bit hard for me to get into the story at first because the beginning is a succession of short scenes from Wally in 1998 and Wallis in 1918. The story then slows down a little to focus on the year of 1936 when Wallis and Edward met and fell in love.
Official website: http://we-movie.com/
Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WEmovie.TWC?ref=ts
Watch the trailer and the promotional documentary at the end of this post.
Movie should be available nationwide this Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.
CLICK "READ MORE" TO READ THE FULL REVIEW
Wally is a 26 year old woman in 1998 New York City. She used to work at Sotheby (- in the world of auctions). She gave up her career when she married William, a wealthy shrink who refuses to see his wife working. She accepted to stop working because she had plans to have children that they both (at least that’s what she thought) wanted. However her obsession with children pushes her to take hormones or something (some medicine) to increase her chances at getting pregnant. William, her husband, is a well respected doctor but takes advantage of his position to attract pretty ladies and constantly cheats on his wife. He is never home and always pretexts he is working late at the hospital. Wally is aware he’s got girlfriends but keeps trying to seduce him. The issue in their couple is that William doesn’t want to have sex with Wally because he knows that she wants to get pregnant. One day he tells her he doesn’t want kids and Wally starts realizing that she gave up her career for a man who had promised he wanted to have a family with her. That’s when things start getting ugly between them. Wally is lost and feels abandoned, lonely, and misunderstood. Her mother and grandmother were both obsessed with Wallis and named her after Wallis on purpose. Wally finds comfort through her passion with Wallis and spends her days at Sotheby where auctions of the Duke and the Duchess’ goods are being held. A security officer working in the building realizes that Wally comes everyday and little by little these two characters start developing a friendship.
Throughout Wally’s journey, Wallis’ ghost appears and helps her find her way. Wally is so unhappy in her life that she tries to become Wallis because she strongly believes Wallis lived the greatest romance. When the security officer asks her what makes her so sure Wallis and Edward lived happily ever after, Wally decides to find out whether their love story was the fairy tale she pictured. Wally admired how Edward gave up the throne for the woman he loved, and was probably wishing her husband would do the same for her – not giving up the throne, but figuratively, giving up the high-society life and excellent reputation he enjoyed. She thus travels to Paris to read the letters handwritten by Wallis herself to discover the true nature of Edward and Wallis’ relationship. Edward gave up the throne for Wallis but this made her his prisoner: there was no way she could leave a man who had made such a sacrifice for her so she had, in a way, to give up her freedom and stay with him forever. Wally’s journey ends when she finally gets what she wanted most: pregnancy and a loving man. The realization that she had idealized Wallis and Edward’s relationship allows her to move on.
From a technical point of view, what might annoy or discomfort the audience is the quick succession of very short scenes from different eras. I had a feeling a few transitions were unnecessary. For instance, the audience is into Wallis’ story when it is suddenly brought to 1998 for one minute, to see Wally look at a cigarette holder that belonged to Edward and we then go back to Wallis’ era. To me those transitions looked like they had been put there because they had to be put somewhere. Maybe devoting longer scenes to Wally and longer scenes to Wallis would have been less confusing. That being said, I’m sure the whole thing has been carefully studied. Maybe Madonna wants people to get confused because she wants them to feel like Wally: lost, unsure of whom is who. Wally suffers so much that she sometimes doesn’t know who she is anymore and tries to look like Wallis. Wallis herself is confused by how things get out of hand when her relationship with King Edward becomes public. There are a lot of tears in the film, a lot of objectified women like Wallis being de-objectified when their make-up runs on their faces. They become human and Madonna shows well that there is a human being behind all "perfect" women (the movie starts with Wallis saying to Wally that she must look her best, and that her face is the most important.)
It is clear Madonna made the movie because she relates to Wallis. At a key scene in the movie she clearly speaks through Wallis’ mouth when Wallis says no one realizes everything she gave up to be Edward’s mistress. Her love affair is called “scandalous” and she can no longer enjoy any kind of privacy. She lost her friends; she lost the esteem people had for her because no one would accept their love affair. After the movie in the elevator I heard a gentleman say that the whole movie is about what Wallis suffered and had to give up, but that it is hard to feel sorry for her because after all she lived a life of luxury in castles and luxurious hotels. “I’m sorry, said that man, but although I understand she might not have been happy, I just can’t feel sorry for her.”
There’s a lot of camera movement showing luxurious palaces and hotels in London and France. The soundtrack is very important in the movie and supports the images very well. It is clear Madonna worked a lot on the music. There is some dancing, a lot of drinking and smoking (I don’t understand what it is with all the smoking in the movie, there’s so much of it that I felt sick after a while just by looking at it.) Wally is the only one not smoking. The music sometimes gets so loud, especially at key moments such as Edward’s abdication, that it is deafening. It creates a very dramatic effect. There are two old French songs as well in the soundtrack.
The images are beautiful and it is clear Madonna tried to create a whole atmosphere, a whole artistic imagery for every single scene. A lot of scenes reminded me of Evita (the dancing, the clothing, the hair, Wallis blinded by the flashes of cameras, the communist background), and some settings reminded me of Swept Away.
On the overall, it was a great movie that you won’t forget two hours after you’ve seen it. It will move you. It is a sad story. You will experience a wide range of feelings when you see it. I was impressed by the quality of the images, the careful selection of colors and music. I think you need to see it twice to really appreciate everything there’s to appreciate in it. Madonna did an amazing job!
Movie lasts 2 hours.