Toward the end of W.E., Wally and Wallis wonder if there might be “some kind of plan” behind the traumas and personal triumphs they’ve experienced in life. They speculate as to whether they have a destiny. It’s not a Romans 8:28 moment, exactly, but it’s nice to hear them ponder the possibility that some force larger than themselves might be at work in their lives, orchestrating the good things and using even the bad things for good.

Madonna and co-writer Alex Keshishian, who directed Madonna’s 1991 concert documentary Truth or Dare, want us to care deeply about Wally and her situation, but the stakes laid out early in the story are poorly developed. She has a possibly cheating husband who’s interested in anything but her, especially her desire to conceive a child. The narrative is designed to set her free from an abusive marriage, as she draws strength from the story of Wallis. W.E. is also a history lesson for those who don’t already know that story of King Edward VIII and who didn’t see The King’s Speech. While the film looks good—it’s nominated for a Best Costume Design Oscar—it doesn’t have much to say, exhausting its ideas and themes after 30 minutes and then playing out a story that holds few surprises.

Still, movies are moving pictures, and Madonna shows a certain cinematic flair in W.E. It should come as no surprise that the woman at the center of so many iconic music videos should show a knack for cinematic image making. She just needs a quality story to support her visual skill.


  • Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; the “f” word; crude reference to female anatomy; “whore”; “camel jockey”; a seductive sexual reference.
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Drinking throughout the film; several scenes of smoking.
  • Sex/Nudity: Kissing; woman unzips her dress, and we see a bra strap across her back; we see the sides of a woman’s breast as she gets into a tub, and later see both breasts when she’s pulled out of the tub during an incident of domestic violence; a reference to a woman’s husband earlier impregnating a girlfriend while in college; a husband and wife lay in bed and kiss; woman in bra and panties; a man pulls a woman’s dress up, revealing her leg and stockings; a man grabs a woman and pushes her down; a married couple begins to make love on a bed, in their underwear; a woman shown in her nightie.
  • Violence/Crime: A miscarriage caused by a beating; a woman injects herself with fertilization treatments; vomiting.
  • Religion/Morals: Wallis is married to another man when she falls in love with the king, and then divorces her husband to marry the king; a woman pursues in vitro fertilization.

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