The White Countess (2005)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, History, Romance  |  31 March 2006 (UK)
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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.



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2 nominations. See more awards »



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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 »



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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?


The real-life mother of Madeleine Daly (Katya) was Madeleine Potter, who played the Countess' sister-in-law Greshenka. 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: We all have to fall in love from time to time... To feed our daughters, and our mothers. And sisters.
See more »


Referenced in Yes Man (2008) See more »


Yellow Angel
Written by Aleksandr Vertinskiy (as Alexander Vertinsky)
Produced by David Bahanovich
Performed by Pierre Seznec
Published by The Vertinsky Foundation
See more »

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User Reviews

A Broader Canvas with Big, Heavy Doors
22 January 2006 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. One can always count on a Merchant/Ivory film to appear soft and flowing on the outside and explosive on the inside with a pinch of unrequited love on the side. The misleading smile on Ralph Fiennes face and the gentleness of Natasha Richardson mask the inner turmoil only to themselves.

Fiennes plays Todd Jackson, an infamous former U.S. diplomat who worked wonders with the Chinese government. Sadly his life took an awful turn when he was blinded and his daughter killed during a tram bombing. His life a mess, Jackson "sees" his idea for an entertainment establishment in his head. Once he has secured the funding, he selects his "centerpiece" ... former Russian Countess Sophie (Richardson). Their business relationship is highly successful but does nothing to help Richardson's torturous family situation. Watching their worlds collide, with an assist from warring nations is a slow and painful ride.

Richardson is simply terrific and elegant as Sophie. Her scenes with Fiennes and her scenes with her family are magnificent and powerful. The only thing preventing the film from being truly top notch is the over-reliance on subtlety in the Fiennes/Richardson relationship.

Outstanding support work is provided by Hiroyoki Sanada as the mysterious Mr. Matsuda, but the real treat for film lovers is the opportunity to see Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave together on screen. As is customary for Merchant/Ivory, the direction is a bit heavy-handed and dialog extremely limiting, but the strong performances allow the film to be very solid and watchable.

19 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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