The White Countess - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The White Countess Reviews

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March 21, 2016
An example of a novel literally on the screen, this Merchant ivory tale of exile and love is not lacking in ambition but has too many threads to work as a cinematic narrative. The screenwriter's novelistic origins betray themselves, a shame as it does bring down a quality cast and solid period production values.
August 23, 2015
Everything's here minus an interesting story.
½ June 6, 2015
As a drama it doesn't quite hit the heights of 'Empire of the Sun', despite the obvious similarities in time and location of this period piece, however it's still a worthy story of toil in troubled times. It's acted well enough and like many Merchant Ivory productions there's attention to detail in the period set design throughout.
May 27, 2015
Set in Shanghai before Japanese invasion during the 1930s. A glimpse of how foreigners live amongst Chinese.
May 22, 2015
An absorbing tale filmed with the usual Merchant Ivory production values. Ishiguro's plot is scarcely believable, but focuses on individuals with unique backgrounds in a situation which is generally portrayed quite differently. Watched with friends and it was a perfectly acceptable evening's viewing, if not a Wow movie.
May 3, 2015
The White Countess is a disappointing film. It is about a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee in 1930s Shanghai. Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson give horrible performances. The script is badly written.James Ivory did a terrible directing this movie. I was not impressed with this motion picture.
April 15, 2015
WOW......WOW.....WOW.....SO SO SO SO SO BAD......MAN THIS IS SUCH AN AWFUL MESSY MESSY MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SO SO SO SO DREADFUL, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SO SO SO AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SO SO SO DREADFUL, IT IS SO SO SO DREADFUL, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MESSY MOVIE 2 WATCH.......WARNING THIS MOVIE CONTAINS STROBE LIGHTNING EFFECTS THROUGHOUT THIS MOVIE......MAN THIS IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MESSY MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SUCH A BAD MOVIE 2 WATCH, JUST AVOID THIS MOVIE AT ALL IT IS SUCH A BAD MOVIE 2 WATCH, JUST AVOID THIS MOVIE AT ALL COSTS IT IS THAT BAD.....JUST DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE IT IS SO AWFUL.......ITS GOT A GOOD SOUNDTRACK THROUGHOUT THIS MOVIE.....BUT MAN THIS MOVIE IS SO SO SO AWFUL 2 WATCH....
September 22, 2014
A Merchant-Ivory production can never upset audience for lack of poetry and visual grandeur. However, despite a stunning cast with brilliant performance of subtlety from Natasha Richardson and Ralph Fiennes, the scattered development fails to build the momentum and empathy for me to care about what is going on in Shanghai at the time.
June 18, 2014
I like the period feel of this movie. I also like Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson and Hiroyuki Sanada as actors. The storyline is original, that is set in pre Japanese-Chinese war.
March 29, 2014
another lovely period piece from merchant ivory
½ January 20, 2014
Ralph Fiennes moze biti slep, Vanessa Redgrave moze biti stara Ruskinja plemenitog porekla, mogu biti sta god i ja cu pogledati. Ali cele dve bi bile previse.
December 27, 2012
Im not interested in the storyline.
½ December 7, 2012
''We all have to fall in love from time to time... To feed our daughters, and our mothers. And sisters.''


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.

Ralph Fiennes: Todd Jackson

Natasha Richardson: Countess Sofia Belinskya

Countess may be very, very slow. but its wonderfully rich visuals and smashing English performances make it the perfect patient man's period film, As mentioned, you must have a lot of glorious patience to make it to that fulfilling conclusion.

Marveled at the cinematography, the great sets, the muted and beautiful fliar of colours.

This Ishiguro story is set in mid-to-late '30s in Shanghai. Ralph Fiennes plays a blind American, Todd Jackson, an ex-diplomat who wants to get away from politics and run the nightclub of his dreams. He has the whole place mapped out in his head. Natasha Richardson as Countess Sofia Belinskya is a high-class escort-service type woman working in a lower-class bar who unselfishly sacrifices her dignity to help support her unappreciative family.

Todd and Sofia meet one day in that bar, he is very impressed with her, and later hires her to run his new place, called The White Countess, hence the film's clever title. Along the way, Todd meets a Japanese man Mr. Matsuda, who we find out isn't the altogether nice guy we thought he was, as it's revealed trouble always follows him.

The themes of isolation and alienation are rampant in this film and occur on many levels. Sophia is shut off from her family and eventually abandoned because of her disgraceful job. Jackson is blind physically and mentally from the real world. They are strangers in a foreign country, a country whose sole foreign policy for the past several centuries has been isolationism, they built a wall to keep people out. These instances are not simply strewn about but are intricately woven into the plot to create a deeper, more meaningful story.

The White Countess explores devastation and new hope, heartbreak and new love, and shows us the hopelessness of walls and cages. We can always close our eyes but that doesn't mean everything around us will disappear.

In the end, this drama comes to life as the Japanese overrun the city and everyone flees for their life. Sofia's family tries to leave without her. The countess desperately goes after them because that family includes her precious young daughter. Fiennes realizes, at the last minute, he doesn't want to live life without Sofia and she he tries to find her among all the chaos. It's a very suspenseful, very positive ending.

White Countess is underrated, under-publicized and a beautifully executed piece. Reminded me of the beautiful Painted Veil.
½ November 2, 2012
This is an extremely beautiful Merchant and Ivory film with a stunning cast including Natasha Richardson, Venessa Redgrave, Ralph Finnes and the late Lynn Redgrave. It takes place in Shanghai just before and during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II. It is breathtaking in it's scope with Shanghai recreated in loving detail.
Fantastic!
September 15, 2012
an intriguing and evocative portrayal of pre world war 2 shanghai. fiennes and richardson are both strong here.
July 16, 2012
Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the greatest authors I know. He has the ability to take small, seemingly insignificant ideas and make delicate but deeply moving works out of them. He writes plot well and creates deep, alive characters he presents through narratives embedded with wisdom and immense humanity. He has proven himself not only a talented novelist but a sharp scriptwriter. Ishiguro is the kind of author I had always considered reliable, so talented he is in making narrative and dialog work. Then I saw ‚The White Countess‚?.

Written by Ishiguro and directed by James Ivory- a director of considerable merit- the movie is a tale set in Shanghai in the 30‚(TM)s. It‚(TM)s basically a twisted love story between Todd (Ralph Fiennes), an American diplomat and Sofia (Natasha Richardson), a young Russian woman of noble descent. Sofia is a refugee who managed to escape the eventual death her former nobility would have brought in Communist Russia.

The set-up is interesting, the themes fascinating, the creative team impressive, the cast okay except for Fiennes, but the storytelling is dreadfully tedious, stiff and constantly off pace. At times the effort behind the film seems half-hearted and at other times there is a sense of trying too hard. I can‚(TM)t decide which one is the real problem behind ‚The White Countess,‚? a mix of wonderful components assembled together by a talented creative team with near-lackluster results.
May 14, 2012
saw it so long ago I forgot!
April 13, 2012
I love the Redgraves!!
½ March 7, 2012
An absolute failure, really. Ray Fiennes is one of my favourite actors but he fails to portray the blind man. Of course, it's impossible not to compare him with Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, but Pacino nailed the feeling of frustration and futility at his condition. What doesn't help is the rambling storyline. It's one of those films where you sit and sit waiting for it to get started, and it never really does,
½ January 25, 2012
From League of Nations diplomat to jazzy nightclub proprietor, Fiennes does a fine job playing a (glazed) blind man who works to envision his dreams, aided by an unlikely friend in Sanada. An interesting portrait of Shanghai in the 30's just before the start of the war, and Richardson puts on her russian accent rather admirably playing the tragic countess forced to support her daughter and devious extended family.
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