The White Countess (2005)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, History, Romance  |  31 March 2006 (UK)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.7/10 from 5,210 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 77 user | 64 critic | 30 from

Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.



Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Onegin (1999)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In the opulent St. Petersburg of the Empire period, Eugene Onegin is a jaded but dashing aristocrat - a man often lacking in empathy, who suffers from restlessness, melancholy and, finally,... See full summary »

Director: Martha Fiennes
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Liv Tyler, Toby Stephens
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In mid-1800s England, Oscar is a young Anglican priest, a misfit and an outcast, but with the soul of an angel. As a boy, even though from a strict Pentecostal family, he felt God told him ... See full summary »

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Cate Blanchett, Ciarán Hinds
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The story of the twilight years of tobacco billionairness Doris Duke and her relationship with her gay butler, to whom she left her entire fortune.

Director: Bob Balaban
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Ralph Fiennes, Peter Asher
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

On a rainy London night in 1946, novelist Maurice Bendrix has a chance meeting with Henry Miles, husband of his ex-mistress Sarah, who abruptly ended their affair two years before. ... See full summary »

Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea
Chromophobia (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A bourgeois family slowly comes apart at the seams.

Director: Martha Fiennes
Stars: Ben Chaplin, Penélope Cruz, Ralph Fiennes
Sunshine (1999)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The fate of a Hungarian Jewish family throughout the 20th century.

Director: István Szabó
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Rosemary Harris, Rachel Weisz
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

28-year-old Kansas University doctoral student Omar Razaghi wins a grant to write a biography of Latin American writer Jules Gund. Omar must get through to three people who were close to ... See full summary »

Director: James Ivory
Stars: Omar Metwally, Anthony Hopkins, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A man marries an heiress for her money even though he is actually in love with her friend.

Director: James Ivory
Stars: Uma Thurman, Jeremy Northam, Kate Beckinsale
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man becomes obsessed with vengeance when his soul mate marries another man.

Director: Peter Kosminsky
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer
Ceremony (2010)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Two friends are off on a weekend outing. Marshall thinks the trip is to re-establish their friendship, but Sam has ulterior motives in mind as he crashes the wedding of a woman he still loves.

Director: Max Winkler
Stars: Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Reece Thompson
Possession (2008)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A woman's life is thrown into chaos after a freak car accident sends her husband and brother-in-law into comas. Thrills arrive after the brother-in-law wakes up, thinking he's his brother.

Directors: Joel Bergvall, Simon Sandquist
Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace, Michael Landes
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A soldier recounts his relationship with a famous political prisoner attempting to overthrow their country's authoritarian government.

Director: Robert Edwards
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander


Cast overview, first billed only:
Madeleine Potter ...
Madeleine Daly ...
Timur Engalychev ...
Feinstein Child
Lucy Sutton ...
Feinstein Child
Amir Maimon ...
Feinstein Child
Itay Eltahan ...
Feinstein Child
Dan Herzberg ...
Maria (as Aislin Mcguckin)
Dong Fu Lin ...
Taxi Dance Hall Manager (as Lin Dong Fu)


Shanghai. 1936. Crossroads of the world and into this city of political intrigue comes Sofia, a Russian Countess who, with the remains of her family, has been left stateless by the Revolution. Forced by her reduced circumstances to support herself and her family as a bar-girl and taxi dancer, Sofia forms a relationship with Jackson, a blind former diplomat who opens an elegant bar; The White Countess. Their curious relationship matures but they are caught up in the fall of the city to the Japanese invaders. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | Romance | War


PG-13 | See all certifications »



| | |


| |

Release Date:

31 March 2006 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Condessa Branca  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$67,712 (USA) (23 December 2005)


$1,666,262 (USA) (21 April 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In preparation for his role, Ralph Fiennes observed a blind man's average day with help from the Royal Society for the Blind. During the shoot he would wear special glasses to simulate blindness before each take. See more »


Samuel Feinstein drives the motorcycle BMW R71. Actually the production of BMW R71 began two years later - in 1938. The Chinese replica of that motorcycle began after 1956. See more »


Sofia: If you have any objections, kindly go to hell.
Todd Jackson: You tell 'em!
See more »


Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 18 February 2010 (2010) See more »


The Song You're Hearing (Ni ting dao de ge sheng)
Written by Min Yao (as Ming Yao) & Lian Sun Chen
Performed by The White Countess Band
EMI Music Publishing Hong Kong and C.A.S.H.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Wonderful cast let down by dreary direction
2 January 2006 | by (Astoria, NY) – See all my reviews

Sorry to say that despite the incredible pedigree of everyone concerned, this film was disappointing. It is beautifully shot and designed, with all the elegance and taste that one comes to expect from Merchant-Ivory, and of course the literary sensibility seems even more marked due to the scripting by Kazuo Ishiguro.

But the film is lifeless. It has plenty of aesthetic style but it has no momentum or vigor. The very accomplished performances by a truly wonderful cast are somewhat wasted when the pace is so glacial and the overall sense of film-making seems so stodgy and fatigued.

I am reminded of how frustrating I found, years ago, Merchant-Ivory's adaptation of Ishiguro's REMAINS OF THE DAY to be, despite again a stellar cast. I know there are people who would disagree strongly with me, but all the fascinating tragic interior sense of the butler's thoughts that made the book so absorbing and moving could not be communicated in a motion picture, no matter how talented an actor Anthony Hopkins is, so we wound up spending a couple of hours looking at a great actor nearly expressionless as he worked so hard to make his proper and repressed character neither register any emotions on his face nor express any in what he said.

Here again we have the same problem. There are huge emotions under the surface here, but because of the foreground sense of repression (and because of the cool-to-the-point-of-leisurely-and-moribund film-making style) we wind up watching Ralph Fiennes do his own version of Hopkins' "sorry, I can't say or feel or show anything because my character is supposed to be so repressed" act.

Granted, these are essential, trademark issues in Ishiguro's work. But it seems that without the vivid interior turmoil so eloquently expressed in his prose to help illuminate the character's stoicism, the result on screen is just....bland. Natasha Richardson fares much, much better, since her character need not be as repressed. And her performance is stunning. And John Wood makes the most out of what is essentially a TWO-LINE role(!!).

Actually, the whole Russian family is handled as a tour-de-force by the acting ensemble, and probably would have been enough to really put this picture over-the-top had not the fatally inexpressive scenes of Jackson and Matsuda ballasted the work into such a torpor. Some of this heaviness is admittedly inherent in Ishiguro's script, but I sense the very same words could have been imbued with the same gravity without nearly the somnambulent wooziness Ivory has made out of them.

I am an unabashed fan of Merchant-Ivory's work, and am saddened by the recent death of Ismail Merchant. The team of Merchant/Ivory/Ruth Prawer Jhabvala/Richard Robbins has created some real cinematic milestones. Two of the Forster adaptations are masterpieces, and many of the Indian films are rare gems. So I'm not one of those who find this dynasty to be too "artsy" or whatever other criticisms have been leveled at them by impatient filmgoers.

Yet "impatience" is indeed what I ultimately felt with this plodding execution. It was a frustrating experience, not the least because I could see how close Ivory was to achieving what he must have wanted to achieve, and how hard everyone must have worked to create that sense of Shanghai on the eve of its tragic invasion by the Japanese. It has all the elements of a great epic, but fails to become one due almost completely to the weirdly anemic sense of passionless, momentumless, drearily uninspired film-making.

57 of 79 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Did anyone NOT find this slow? staybeautiful
Do you think Ralph will win an Oscar by acting in this film? johnspider53
On the set in China cmarks-4
Ralph is blind ibjeannie
when is the normal national release date? merrydeath21
song lizzielizzie581
Discuss The White Countess (2005) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: