It’s New York in 1989 – auction house Sotheby’s holds a special sale of the remaining personal items of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, held in state since the death of the Duchess (formerly Wallis Simpson) a few years before. The items include clothing, furniture, art and jewellery. The auction draws a sizeable crowd, some keen to buy but most just curious to see. One such attendee is Wally Winthrop (played by Abbie Cornish), named after Wallis as a result of both her mother’s and her grandmother’s obsession with the love story that played out between Wallis and Prince Edward VIII in the 1930’s. Today, Wally’s life as become unhappy – her psychiatrist husband, William (by Richard Coyle) is abusive and she suspects him of affairs – worst of all, she gave up her job and independence to marry and have a baby, but the baby hasn’t happened, though she’s tried everything – even invitro-fertilisation. Wally avidly and regularly attends the series of auctions, which results in two things – first, she gets to know the love story, to the point of obsession – second, she becomes attracted to Evgeni (by Oscar Isaac) a Sotheby’s security guard. Wally’s world drifts between her own unhappy life and her daydreams about the love between Wallis (by Andrea Riseborough) and the Prince (by James D’Arcy), until finally she discovers joy in her own world and her future ….
I enjoyed this film. It is far more than just another retold version of the royal tragedy/love story. In fact, it is multi-dimensional. The stories are told in parallel, which has the potential to get confused, but this doesn’t. The current day story has high passion, much told though aggression – even violence – but that’s effective. Abby Cornish does very well and Andrea Riseborough excellent as Wallis Simpson. The styling and scenes are good, I like the sepia tones of the cinematography and the way real news footage is spliced into the story. Costumes are wonderful – and the movie was nominated for an Academy Award (Oscar) for its achievement in this area in 2012. Perhaps one criticism is that the director has assumed that the viewer is quite familiar with the history and events of the time, which if you are not, may lead to some confusion or misinterpretation of some scenes. Also, it may be a little too long, but only a little. It is the second feature film made by Madonna – she directed, co-produced and co-scripted with Alek Keshishian – and she has done well. On the whole it’s pretty good and I’d like to see more of what Madonna can do as a director.
Made in 2011. Directed by Madonna