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W.E. (2012)


Average Rating: 4.3/10
Reviews Counted: 104
Fresh: 13
Rotten: 91

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 4.2/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 2
Rotten: 32

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 4,867


Movie Info

W.E. tells the story of two fragile but determined women - Wally Winthrop and Wallis Simpson - separated by more than six decades. In 1998, lonely New Yorker Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) is obsessed with what she perceives as the ultimate love story: King Edward's VIII's abdication of the British throne for the woman he loved, American divorcée Wallis Simpson. But Wally's research, including several visits to the Sotheby's auction of the Windsor Estate, reveals that the couple's life together … More

R (for some domestic violence, nudity, and language)
Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
Madonna , Alek Keshishian
In Theaters:
May 1, 2012
Box Office:
The Weinstein Company - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for W.E.

All Critics (104) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (91) | DVD (5)

It's hard to hate a movie that escorts us to such lovely locales, but instead of marking the territory as her own, Madonna has directed a potentially provocative story like a virgin.

Full Review… | March 16, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

With "W.E." Madonna gorges on glamour, architectural porn and haute couture but starves the mind.

Full Review… | March 5, 2012
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

The film is stylishly shot. And, in weaving the stories of Wally and Wallis, Madonna trusts viewers to move from mood to mood, era to era without overexplanation, the way music-video editing long ago trained us to.

Full Review… | March 2, 2012
Denver Post
Top Critic

A movie more concerned with how things look than how they feel.

Full Review… | March 1, 2012
Miami Herald
Top Critic

The production is nice looking, and telling the Edward-and-Wallis story from her side is an interesting idea, but it's one that Madonna simply can't pull off here.

Full Review… | February 16, 2012
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

A movie that's less about people than the fetishistic obsession with style.

Full Review… | February 10, 2012
Washington Post
Top Critic

Having gone to painstaking lengths to ensure this film assigns [Madonna] oh-so-serious directorial cred that she has sadly forsaken the very energy that makes her a megastar to this very day.

Full Review… | September 8, 2013

It may not be laughably awful - like her and Ritchie's Swept Away - it's something far worse...boring.

Full Review… | March 14, 2013
Daily Star

Is this the end of Madonna as a movie maker, a case of her always ambitious reach exceeding her limited grasp?

Full Review… | December 30, 2012
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

W.E. is staggeringly misjudged, infuriatingly revisionist, blindingly stupid and stomach evacuatingly terrible.

Full Review… | September 15, 2012
We Got This Covered

Kudos to Madonna for ultimately producing a celluloid smorgasbord that contains the caloric content of a couple of Snackwell's cookies.

Full Review… | September 4, 2012

Impossible to recommend to anyone not already fascinated with the British royal family, or at least jonesing for a companion piece to The King's Speech.

Full Review… | August 22, 2012

Truth be told, the film isn't THAT bad, and if it had been directed by an unknown rather than a controversial media icon, it might have been more charitably dismissed as an ambitious failure.

Full Review… | May 8, 2012
Creative Loafing

not a completely horrible film ...there's one sequence - an anachronistic and jarring one in which Wallis Simpson ... dances with a Masai tribesman to the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" - that I think indicates that Madge has real potential as a director.

Full Review… | April 29, 2012
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

An ambitiously conceived and beautifully designed and costumed but disjointed work; each scene is impressive on its own, but the movie -- like its heroines? -- lacks a coherent identity.

Full Review… | April 18, 2012
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Madonna doesn't appear in W.E. but her artistic sensibilities are on display at every turn.

Full Review… | April 15, 2012
Movie Habit

Tonally and emotionally all over the map, Madonna wants to celebrate Wallis' and Edward's martini-shaking high living while also wallowing in her hidden pain.

Full Review… | March 30, 2012
Salt Lake Tribune

Hear us out, Madge: Next time, go with what you know.

Full Review… | March 28, 2012
Orlando Weekly

Enough already with the famous-equals-feminist school of female icons - it's not enough to simply dress well.

Full Review… | March 22, 2012

The coda plays like one long and petulant foot stomp about sacrifice and due recognition of said sacrifice, and in that, too, it's impossible not to tease the thread back to its maker, striking a pose as misunderstood icon.

Full Review… | March 22, 2012
Austin Chronicle

We can't take overly seriously the woes of folks whose silverware costs more than most people's homes, at least not as presented here, with their wealth depicted as a kind of moral state.

Full Review… | March 15, 2012

Neither story comes alive, in large part because the film never stops moving long enough to let them.

Full Review… | March 1, 2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Audience Reviews for W.E.


Stylish to the point of being strange. The film seemed lifeless and lacking any significant point or emotion. This film would have made more sense as a photo shoot. "W.E." should be renamed "W.T.F.?"

Christian C

Super Reviewer

Not sure what I think of this one. First the pluses.
The movie certainly looks stylish. It's filmed beautifully and I love the outfits and make up used for the "period" parts. Abbie Cornish is great, as is the actress who plays the first Wally. If directing a movie is just about getting things to "look" right and choosing a good cast, then Madonna has done a great job. I did think the "pretty vacant" scene was similar to one in "Marie Antoinette", though.
Now the not so good, the story was a bit hard to follow. I didn't understand Abbie's fascination with the first Wally aside from she was named after her. I also thought it floundered in the parts she "saw" and spoke to the original Wally.
I didn't really understand the relationships with Wally and her husband and the King, and the beating scene, that was kind of out of nowhere. To be honest, the guys in this are pretty wooden and I couldn't really tell one from the other. Not entirely sure which one beat the first Wally and where the miscarriage came into it.
The more modern story was easier to follow.
Wally was pretty much married to a jerk, although I can see where her baby obsession must have been pretty annoying. I couldn't understand why she would even want to be with him considering, let alone have children with him. The security guard guy was a bit creepy too. The bit where he says she reminds him of his dead wife. Um. Great.
Overall, a movie that looks great and keeps you watching, but a bit low on believability.

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

This film juxtaposes the romance between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII with a neglected woman in the twentieth century who entertains an obsession with the story.
This is one of the worst films I've seen in a long time. Madonna is a horrid director. There is absolutely no restraint, subtlety, or character development. It's just bad, bad, bad.
But let's try to take the film on its own terms. The thesis is that history remembers Edward's abdication of the throne and lauds or judges him based on what he gave up for Wallis Simpson. But, the film wonders, what about what she gave up for him? Well, what did she give up? This film doesn't answer its own question. Some may judge Simpson as a home-wrecker, but the most accurate reading of history judges British royal mores, not the actors. And because Madonna has no feeling for British customs, we don't get to see these social pressures in action.
And I still have no idea how the modern day plot informs the British plot.
Overall, anyone with any taste should see any other film, maybe The King's Speech, which overlaps W.E..

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


I thought that this movie was beautifully done. I have read some not so kind reviews, but I decided to watch it anyway do to the subject matter. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well this movie was done. Good casting, great cinematography, good pacing, nice score, and I like the honest portrayal of the two main characters. This was actually one of the best movies I've seen in awhile.

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

W.E. Quotes

Wallis Simpson:
You have no idea how hard it is to live out the greatest love romance of the century. And now I will have to be with him always and always and always.
– Submitted by Zozo A (22 months ago)
Wallis Simpson:
Attractive is just a polite way of saying you've done the best with what you've got. All I could hope to do was dress the best and if everyone turned to look at me when I walked into the room, well, I knew my husband would be happy.
– Submitted by Anna F (2 years ago)
Wallis Simpson:
Darling, they can't hurt you unless you let them.
– Submitted by Mitch Z (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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