Box art for W.E.


drama, romance

Madonna's beautifully crafted film tells the story of a lonely New Yorker who begins to explore the ultimate love story: King Edward VIII's abdication of the throne for the woman he loved.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
4 out of 5
3 out of 5

Madonna directs mature, uneven drama; some domestic abuse.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Madonna's directorial debut tackles some mature issues that aren't appropriate for younger teens. There's considerable marital abuse; the two main female characters both have husbands who strike them viciously, and in one case the physical abuse leads to a bloody miscarriage. There's nearly full-frontal nudity in a brief bath scene, plus several love scenes (though no additional graphic nudity) and shots of the two main actresses wearing only underwear/lingerie. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t." Despite W.E.'s adult themes, it does have one important message: Never stay in an abusive relationship.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how W.E. addresses the classic theme of star-crossed lovers. How are both couples not initially a good match? What keeps them together? Can you think of other movie couples that stay together despite the odds against them?
  • Why does the movie gloss over possible negative aspects of Wallis and Edward's relationship? How does this portrayal compare to how they're depicted in The King's Speech? Are there any similarities between the two movies? Which characters are depicted consistently between the two films?
  • How do the relationships in this movie compare to others you've seen in movies and TV shows? What messages do you see in how the media depicts romantic relationships?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 0
    see all W.E. reviews
  • Audience


Audience Reviews

2 stars

"W.E." surprised me twice. First, I was surprised that something whose previews looked so promising (I even predicted several Oscar nominations) could be so dull. But then, I was even more surprised that the paralleling stories redeemed this film in the end. At first, I felt as if it was "The Hours" gone completely wrong, with its constant shifting between stories separated by 60 years and Phillip Glass-like soundtrack giving it a copycat feel; however, the fact that they didn't draw direct, obvious parallels between the two women's lives kept it from feeling TOO much like "The Hours." The parallels seem more like happenstance as they aren't presented chronologically with the other story, leaving the audience to connect the things that happened early in one character's life with ones that happened later in the other character's life. That being said, Madonna's directorial feature is still a partial disaster. The first half of this film wanders around in circles and I was completely lost. I'm pretty sure that the cast, director, and writers were completely lost, as well. The story of Wallis Simpson and King Edward is fascinating and I would have much rather seen a biopic than this creative approach. The actors are alright, but there were really only two reasons to watch this film: 1. It is a really interesting supplement to "The King's Speech" as these stories align, and 2. The letter reading scene is magic. That scene truly makes this film completely worth watching, pulling the stories together by intertwining Wallis Simpson's hardships that she endured for her love with Wally Winthrop's challenging decision in modern times. It is debatable whether the horrid first 1/2-hour of the film is worth watching in order to have the letter reading scene be so poignant, but I'd probably give this film another shot with a low expectation.

- paj85, Thursday, May 10, 2012

3 stars

Not the disaster it's reported to be. Great visuals and style. The modern parallel story was unnecessary and distracting. Andrea Riseborough is terrific as Wallis Simpson.

- emiliobarzini, Saturday, May 5, 2012

1 star

I really, really wanted to like this movie. It's visually beautiful, and the synopsis makes it sound good. Unfortunately, it's... not. At all. I was bored out of my mind an hour into it and couldn't imagine sitting through any more. Kudos to the visual team for making something pretty, it's just too bad there's nothing else to back it up.

- fb677587177, Saturday, May 5, 2012