6.7/10
5,520
80 user 64 critic

The White Countess (2005)

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

Director:

Writer:

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

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 6.4/10 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 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
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
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
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
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)
...
Edit

Storyline

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 johnno.r@xtra.co.nz

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance | War

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

| | |

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

31 March 2006 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Condessa Branca  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$1,666,262 (USA) (21 April 2006)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the second film in which sisters Vanessa Redgrave and Lynn Redgrave both appear. See more »

Goofs

The Japanese flag should have the chrysanthemum design instead of the rising sun design. See more »

Quotes

Todd Jackson: Why aren't you at home in your bed?
Sofia: There is no bed for me till morning. My daughter... Sorry, I was forgetting our agreement.
Todd Jackson: I told you, there is no agreement. I just once thought that we'd get on best if we confined our friendship to within these walls.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Yes Man (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Mood Indigo
(1930)
Music by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard
Lyrics by Irving Mills
Performed by Duke Ellington Orchestra
EMI Music Publishing Ltd., Indigo Mood Music, Famous Music Corporation
Courtesy of Columbia Jazz
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 80 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?