Metascore
37

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 32
  2. Negative: 9 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Diego Costa
    Dec 12, 2011
    75
    W.E.'s is a kind of dynamic pleasure that allows for non-shameful identification with the feminine and a fantasy of becoming what we see.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Feb 8, 2012
    63
    There is little human interest or excitement. It isn't written that way. The music and the dialogue seem curiously even and muted, and there aren't the kinds of drama we expect in a biopic. Everyone is too restrained and discreet to expose themselves that way.
  3. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Feb 3, 2012
    63
    This jagged blob of a movie features a solo dance in the 1930s scored to the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant," several scenes of a rich Manhattan woman chatting with the ghost of Wallis Simpson and a Sotheby's auction that draws a crowd reaction of the kind associated with "Family Feud." Yet I found the movie fascinating. Except for the boring bits.
  4. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Feb 9, 2012
    60
    The auction makes for a pretty good hinge between the two narratives and, more importantly, allows Madonna to indulge her fetish for fine English things.
  5. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Jan 16, 2012
    60
    An uneven study of a notorious love story, raised by some superb performances and nuances, but brought down by awkward direction.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 7, 2011
    58
    W.E. is less outright bad than underwhelming; if the director were unknown, it would hardly deserve notice. Like her first film, the 2008 "Filth and Wisdom," it suffers from countless storytelling flaws.
  7. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 8, 2011
    55
    W.E. is actually two intertwining stories - or maybe, more accurately, two stories clumsily rubbing against each other in an awkward attempt to set off a spark.
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 16, 2012
    50
    It's hard to hate a movie that escorts us to such lovely locales, but instead of marking the territory as her own, Madonna has directed a potentially provocative story like a virgin.
  9. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Mar 15, 2012
    50
    The nearest thing to W. E. is Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," which tried to make a sympathetic victim of another of history's most notorious royal wives.
  10. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Mar 1, 2012
    50
    Only in the execution does Madonna stumble: Despite the undeniable romance of the historical material, she has made a movie more concerned with how things look than how they feel. Which should not surprise anyone.
  11. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Feb 9, 2012
    50
    W.E., her second effort after 2008's "Filth and Wisdom,'' tries awfully hard. In the end it tries our patience.
  12. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Feb 9, 2012
    50
    Madonna the director deserves a script better than the one Madonna the screenwriter handed off to her. The movie is full of incidents that don't quite cohere into a story - kind of like a Power Point presentation without a throughline.
  13. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Feb 3, 2012
    50
    The result is an odd, very personal film that the pop star-turned-director has made with tender loving care, but the results of the final final film are mixed.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Nov 29, 2011
    50
    As easy on the eyes and ears as it is embalmed from any dramatic point of view.
  15. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Jan 25, 2012
    42
    The movie is a folly, a desultory vanity project for its director and co-writer. But for those very reasons, W.E., by world-renowned personage and lesser-known filmmaker Madonna, is not without twisted interest.
  16. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 16, 2012
    40
    The production is nice looking, and telling the Edward-and-Wallis story from her side is an interesting idea, but it's one that Madonna simply can't pull off here.
  17. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Feb 2, 2012
    40
    The upshot is that instead of a film about a love that conquered a king and nearly undid a kingdom, Madonna has come up with a female friendship movie, which would be fine if she weren't busy trying to prove her art-film bona fides.
  18. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Feb 2, 2012
    40
    While W.E. cannot be counted as a successful directorial effort, there are genuine elements of interest here. The most notable is a nervy central performance from Andrea Riseborough, who plays true-life Baltimore socialite Wallis Simpson.
  19. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Jan 31, 2012
    40
    Riseborough's acting offers total commitment in the face of lunacy, but it's a shame she's flapping around in an egotistical film with such a terribly warped sense of purpose.
  20. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jan 30, 2012
    40
    With its restless parade of grainy closeups, the movie is a haze of retro rapture and wishful thinking, and, above all, a lost opportunity. We don't want to hear any more about ancient constitutional crises. We want to watch a three-way with a former King of England, in a bungalow. Madonna, of all people, missed a trick.
  21. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 8, 2011
    40
    W.E., Madonna's second go at directing a feature film, leaves one wishing she'd find other creative outlets for those times when she's bored with the pop-star life.
  22. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 29, 2011
    40
    You can't call W.E. a total disaster; it's too pretty, too nonsensical and finally too insignificant for that.
  23. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    Nov 29, 2011
    40
    Burdened with risible dialogue and weak performances, picture doesn't have much going for it apart from lavish production design and terrific, well-researched costumes -- and it's in focus, which is more than can be said for the script.
  24. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Feb 9, 2012
    38
    Conceived and directed by Madonna, W.E. is a gorgeous mess.
  25. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Feb 9, 2012
    38
    Madonna stayed married to director Guy Ritchie just long enough to absorb his most grating cinematic instincts - shooting in every style, in an addled, shuffle-mode, falsely glamorizing way until all is chaos. And, astonishingly, boredom.
  26. 38
    W.E. is a heavily made-up face masquerading as a movie and demanding to be admired – demands that might just leave you with an acute pain in the other end.
  27. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Jan 31, 2012
    30
    Certainly, W.E. is the work of a woman who apparently hasn't spent time with normal human beings in a while. But Madonna's anachronistic use of music is the least of her movie's problems. It's basic storytelling that stymies her.
  28. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Feb 9, 2012
    25
    Whatever else W.E. may be (lousy, a waste of time, tin-eared, sleep-inducing, occasionally laughable, etc.), it's sincere and ambitious.
  29. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Feb 2, 2012
    25
    Here's Madge one more time doing something for which she is eminently unsuited – directing.
  30. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Feb 1, 2012
    25
    For the scandal-prone icon behind the camera - who glibly writes off all that talk about her subjects' Nazi sympathies as slanderous nonsense from a jealous, hateful press and gossipy busybodies - the film might as well be called ME.
  31. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Feb 2, 2012
    20
    The director's apparent blindness to the epic banality of her subjects suggests that the whole project is one royally misguided mess.
  32. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Dec 12, 2011
    0
    It's a shame that W.E. smells so bad.
User Score
6.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 55 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 4 out of 14
  1. Jun 13, 2013
    9
    A sweeping, beautiful movie with a gorgeous musical score, The twirling dance scene alone is worth watching the movie. Madonna is unfairly ripped by male critics who like dub-ass crap with half-ass comedians. Look at critic scores for male-oriented movies, vs more feminine types. The feminine types get ripped. Madonna is an artist. What she produces may not be perfect but it's beautiful. Full Review »
  2. Dec 12, 2012
    7
    What we have is two films here. The one following Edward and Mrs simpson is actually really good, but the other in the modern time following Abbie Cornish is rather more ponderous and unnecessary. Andrea Riseborough is a revelation as Wallis Simpson and the film's costumes and design are lovely. Director Madonna also gives us some interesting camera set ups, which set to the stunning score are very effective. Without doubt the underrated film of 2012. Full Review »
  3. May 3, 2012
    7
    Now director Madonna could easily be, what you say a horrid movie. And, sure it doesn't satisfy people like teenagers and young adults, but it does have a really appropriate story. The camera shot of the film is a genuine and perfect, the film itself is a bit longer as it should be, but with its proceeding films "The King's Speech", "The Iron Lady" and so-and-so, the film is still a good mix of a classic beauty and sometimes.... A complete horror. Full Review »