You know who was pretty interesting? Wallis Simpson, and also the Duke of Windsor. I’d watch a movie about them. I thought this was a movie about them. I question the choice of putting out a movie about the Duke of Windsor just after The King’s Speech, but, well, whatever, Madonna.

This movie was, however, only sort of about the titular W. and E. Instead, there was an asinine framing device: Wally (Abbie Cornish, and so named because her mother was obsessed with Mrs. Simpson, and also apparently cruel and deranged) desperately wants to have a baby; her husband William (Jeff from “Coupling”) does not. Wally’s coping mechanism is to haunt the sale of the Windsors’ estate at Sotheby’s and flirt with Evgeni (Oscar Isaac), a security guard. Intermittently Mrs. Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) will appear in Wally’s imagination to give her advice.

I submit, my dear, that if you need advice on your life plans, that Wallis Simpson may not be the place to turn.

In and around all this garbage is an abbreviated account of the romance between Mrs. Simpson and the Prince of Wales &c. (James D’Arcy). The angle, though, is purported to be new: everyone knows what Edward VIII gave up to marry an American divorcée, but what, the film asks, did Wallis give up to marry Edward? The film doesn’t answer this question satisfactorily, and even if it did, the answer is still “not a kingdom” and “who cares?”

Riseborough and D’Arcy show fairly well, but the convoluted drama of Wally-William-Evgeni just embarrasses the actors involved. Bertie (to become George VI) is relegated back to the role of a clumsy stutterer whose wife speaks for him in all things, presumably in the interests of making his brother look more dashing. It sort of works, but you feel manipulated. This is the problem with the whole movie, in fact: you get what it’s doing, but it’s so heavy-handed that you lose interest.

Stray notes:

  • In case you were wondering, ladies, this movie clears up any doubts: if you can get pregnant, you are a worthwhile human being.

Director: Madonna
Rating: R
Length: 119 min.
Score: 2/5.

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