Thursday, May 31, 2012

W.E. (2011)

“You have no idea how hard it is to live out the greatest romance of the century. And how I will have to be with him always and always and always.”

            The first time I had ever heard about Wallis Simpson was when I was on a hunt for photographs by Cecil Beaton. One of the first photos I came across was Wallis Simpson in a beautiful black dress by the famous Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli (which was a great added bonus I adore the designer). Not too long after my brother rented The King’s Speech which made me interested in researching its story. The story of King Edward and Wallis Simpson is very intriguing and in some ways addicting. My interest in Simpson piqued yet again after I saw the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest fashion exhibit Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations where one display showed a picture of the infamous woman in the lobster dressed Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali designed.
            When I went to see The Artist there was a trailer for the movie W.E. about the Duke and Duchess. This was back in January and ever since I had been dying to see the movie. Yes, I know the movie was directed and even written by Madonna but if you can watch the movie for what it is the story is excellent and the direction and cinematography are perfection.
            Wally Winthrop is a woman living in modern day New York City. She has a husband who makes a lot of money as one of the city’s leading psychologists. He is barely ever home and stays out late into the night or does not come home at all. Wally used to work at Sotheby’s auction house and stops by one day to take a look at their latest auction of the collection of items that were once owned by Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. As she goes through the items she imagines Edward and Wallis together from when they first met.
            The scenes depicting Edward and Wallis together are stunning. The colors are beautiful and the actors portraying the Duke and Duchess were fantastic. I liked seeing how they were both taken with each other from the moment they met. My favorite scene was when they were at a dinner party. Edward was known as David to his close friends and told Wallis to call him so. The dinner party was for a friend who had just come back from America after getting her divorce. The friend seemed to really love David and it showed after he just kept talking to Wallis and ignoring the friend every time she would try to speak to him. The final straw comes when David accidently rips Wallis’s dress and she yells out the name his closest friends use for him and the friend storms out. Well I liked the scene mostly because Wallis mentions the dress is Schiaparelli. One of my favorite quotes was when Wallis says “I’m nothing to look at so I all I can do is dress better than anyone.” And the real Simpson definitely did.
            I liked how the story was mixed between old and new. The best was when Wally would touch something owned by the Duchess and she would imagine what went on when the Duchess touched or worn them. I love doing that whenever I see old artifacts especially with clothing I always try to imagine what the person was like who wore the items and what it was like during that time period.
            One reviewer on IMDB said the main theme of the movie is a about how normal everyday people turn to the celebrities they read about and try to find something they have in common with those celebrities or historical figures in this case. That is close but the rest of the reviewers words were harsh saying that Wally is obsessed with Wallis and that Wally needs to get a life. I think Wally looked to the Duchess because Edward was obsessed with her he loved her and was possessed by her so much that he risked everything and gave up the throne to be with her. Wally’s marriage was falling apart her husband was terrible to her, she was looking to the love Wallis and Edward had for each other that is what she wanted in her life. Wally also saw the other side of this “fairytale”. Everyone only knows what Edward gave up for her but no one ever stops to think what Wallis gave up for him. Wally gave up her job when her husband did not want her to work and he did not see how much that meant to her. My point is this is not a person obsessed with a historical figure it is a person trying to find meaning in her life and she turned to this figure who had to endure so much and eventually came through it all.
            The direction was fantastic. I was so taken with each scene. It is amazing to think this film was made by Madonna. The cinematography was incredible especially for the flashbacks to Wallis and Edward where it was soft and light.
            W.E. was not made to be a strict period piece. It is like watching any sort of biopic there are always going to be some things missing and some things that are not right. W.E. depicts a good enough story to whet your appetite to research the people. I found myself completely taken with the movie and the story I found myself loving it. The story of the Duke and Duchess is a fairytale of sorts but a dark one with obsession and passion. I could have done with more of the historical aspect and less of the modern aspect but as a whole W.E. is a very well made and should be given a chance.

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