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W.E. (2011)

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The affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson, and a contemporary romance between a married woman and a Russian security guard.


Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Abbie Cornish ... Wally Winthrop
Andrea Riseborough ... Wallis Simpson
James D'Arcy ... Edward
Oscar Isaac ... Evgeni
Richard Coyle ... William Winthrop
David Harbour ... Ernest
James Fox ... King George V
Judy Parfitt ... Queen Mary
Haluk Bilginer ... Mohamed Al-Fayed
Geoffrey Palmer ... Stanley Baldwin
Natalie Dormer ... Elizabeth
Laurence Fox ... Bertie
Douglas Reith ... Lord Brownlow
Katie McGrath ... Lady Thelma
Christina Chong ... Tenten


In 1998, an auction of the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor causes great excitement. For one woman, Wally Winthrop, it has much more meaning. Wally becomes obsessed by their historic love story. As she learns more about the sacrifices involved, Wally gains her own courage to find happiness. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | History | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some domestic violence, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French | Russian

Release Date:

20 January 2012 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

El romance del siglo See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$47,074, 5 February 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Semtex Films, IM Global See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

SDDS | Datasat | Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Fashion house Christian Dior recreated three dresses for this film that it had previously made for the real Wallis Simpson. See more »


In "W E." Edward and Wallis are shown riding horses together (Wallis wearing a kind of dressage outfit): Wallis did ride on the U.S. and in China, but there's no evidence that she went riding with Edward in England. See more »


Wallis Simpson: Attractive, my dear, is a polite way of saying a woman's made the most of what she's got.
See more »


Featured in Great Movie Mistakes IV (2012) See more »


Written by Christoph Clöser, Morten Gass
Performed by Bohren & Der Club of Gore
Published by Manuskript © (P) Bohren & Der Club of Gore released under exclusive license by [Pias] Recordings 2008
See more »

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User Reviews

A fantasy with realistic (and historical) roots...well done!
29 October 2012 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

W.E. (2011)

Don't even think about who directed this. Think of it as a multi-layered, multi-era epic centering on the marriage of King Edward and his American love, Wallis Simpson. He's the English king who abdicated for love. But this is the story of the love, Wallis, the woman who gave up as much as the king did, or so the thrust of the movie suggests.

It's rather good! It mixes a bit of fantasizing with a contemporary woman, Wally, finding her obsession with the Wallis of history (1930s) is more than coincidence. The narrative flips between several parts of the royal story before WWII and the contemporary version, which includes a budding relationship with a guard at an exhibition of Wallis Simpson memorabilia.

Whether you find either story convincing doesn't matter. One of them is of course based on history, and is interesting if you don't already know the facts. The other is an echo of the same, with the woman having to become strong and independent just as her earlier namesake did.

What is most interesting is the way the two stories are inter-spliced, including some scenes where the two times zones are mixed (apparently in Wally's head, but it's very real to the audience). We start to see how often and completely women are stuck in situations they would not choose if they knew ahead of time. It's about independence, yes, but also failure to be independent and the consequences. And maybe it's about learning a little from history.

The director? Madonna. Yes, the singer from Michigan. The director of the terrible bomb "Filth and Wisdom." Here there is some real cinematic intelligence. It's a good movie. Flawed, a bit longer than it needs to be, a bit forced in the layering of stories, but well acted and conceived.

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