The White Countess (2005) - Drama, History, Romance

Hohum Score



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.

IMDB: 6.6
Director: James Ivory
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson
Length: 135 Minutes
PG Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 27 out of 83 found boring (32.53%)

One-line Reviews (88)

Compared to the Japanese takeover of Shanghai as seen in the earlier film Empire of the Sun, this was something of a low-budget, one-or-two camera, plodding disappointment.

"The White Countess" is an ultimately empty movie.

In a way, the movie feels empty.

While the script and characters are somewhat compelling, my interest in the story itself waned once the climax seemed foreordained.


Natasha Richardson was stunning as Sofia and deserved an Oscar for the film.

The setting is stunningly beautiful to see, and the unfolding of the story is as painfully slow as the life of displaced people in a foreign city can be.

an enjoyable afternoon of movie watching .

But his performance is in service of a cypher, not a real part, not a real human being, and a plot that is didactic and pretentious rather than in service to telling a human story.

Yet "impatience" is indeed what I ultimately felt with this plodding execution.

I found him the entire enterprise uninteresting.

However, at the end of the night, Countess Sophia must return to the slums and the outside world with all its troubles and other unpredictable variables.

The Redgraves as Russians are laughable, the story is ultimately banal and the writing is lacklustre.

Its slow progression toward a bittersweet "happy ending" is soothing in a way movies rarely are any more.

Everything looks contrived and fake, there is no magic between two main protagonists, and worst of all there is no sense of doom and tragedy that clouds everybody's lives.

There's unnecessarily explicit dialog with a Japanese near the end to emphasize that his goal in creating the titular nightclub was to unrealistically have some sort of oasis from civil war (with confusing flashbacks on how somebody's violence has affected him personally).

Perhaps the book was more engrossing.

While many viewers find this 138 minute film boring and plot less, there is a flavor here that could only be captured by this team.

I found myself immersed in the milieu of 1930's ShangHai, a place and time I had only read of and subsequently wondered about.

I had chances to watch this film twice so far, and I enjoyed it better for the second time.

And her performance is stunning.

Dreary .

Just as beautiful and slow-moving as other Merchant Ivories .

His walk, his speech, everything he did was wooden and, frankly boring.

Reminiscent of "Casablanca" and "Doctor Zhivago", this all sounds compelling, and as a political backdrop, it is.

But sadly, this 2005 romantic epic is a plodding, overly fanciful production despite the best efforts of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro.

Like most Merchant-Ivory dramas, this one is strong on period detail, but it is rather drab in appearance and lacks the visual appeal of some of James Ivory's earlier efforts.

Visually Stunning But Far Too Ponderous As a Historical Epic of Grand Romance .

Consequently the film is rather empty, leaving us only with Jackson's friendship with a shadowy Japanese man who, as anyone with any historical knowledge will guess, personifies the threat of a Japanese invasion.

I highly recommend it.

As a result, the movie dragged on too long.

Overall the production is shockingly bad – grainy footage with washed-out color, boring locales (were any scenes actually filmed in Shanghai?

Superb acting, complex characters, and visually stunning sets make for a realistic, timeless five-star drama.

Natasha Richardson's expressions of the emotions to her daughter made me cry even for the first time, but at the second time, it also hit me that her suppressed behavior to Jackson (Ralph Fiennes) was to protect her daughter, and it made the human relations more fascinating - and sad - in this story.

Beautiful Expatriates in Shanghai On the Brink of WWII Made Mostly Uninteresting .

Excuse me while I fall asleep .

Even as someone who loves the romance of pre-war China, I was too often bored.

The Russian Countess and her "royal family" and the Mr. Jackson character share the burden of having had their lives leveled by sad and unexpected circumstances.

I have just returned from seeing this film, and believe that if you were truly bored, then to highlight the good points is to 'damn with faint praise'.

It's watchable and entertaining.

Hiroyuki Sanada, as the somewhat mysterious, and always alluring Matsuda, was particularly effective, using his paucity of screen-time to exceptionally good effect-his relationship with Jackson was intriguing, fascinating, and most illustrative.

Self indulgent, simpering, and shallow.

Although it contains an abundance of intriguing metaphors and keen observations on human lives, the screenplay does lack something—be it suave packaging of romance or absorbing dialog.

If any other director had created a series of films as unerringly graceful and pitilessly ponderous as James Ivory's oeuvre he would be accused of being stuck in a rut.

The city of lost souls seems empty and soulless.

It's an unexpected treasure.

Ty Burr, in the Boston Globe, calls the film a disappointment, "…tastefully dull, ultimately rather silly…with cooked up characters and emotions.

Watching their worlds collide, with an assist from warring nations is a slow and painful ride.

But it worked because the story progressed and was compelling, even though it moved slowly at times.

Even the superlative cast and stunning cinematography cannot salvage this studiously slow snooze.

What a stunning surprise!

Enjoyed it very much .

This tedious wreck of a movie failed at every hurdle except the props and the photography.

It's a very suspenseful ending.

A breathtaking historical epic filled with stunning cinematography and flawless acting by Natasha Richardson and Ralph Fiennes.

Cannot believe the script - spark free, dull, characterless, tedious, humourless - was by Kazuo Ishiguro.

That's because the first 105 minutes are very, very slow.

The movie's pace is slow, and nuance is everything.

bored rigid .

Interesting, well acted film - with virtually no plot.

Towards the end of this badly paced, plodding, mess of a movie, the audience almost wants the small sampan where the principle characters, a tragic Russian émigré family (played by real-life mother, aunt, and daughter Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave and Natasha Richardson) to get hit by a Japanese bomb.

Nothing happens until the end of this film.

The world weary widower character is getting to be predictable and boring.

the film was boring throughout.

This is a likable, if sometimes very slow movie, despite the clichés and heavy-handed style.

I'd heard something about Shanghai at this period in past years, but this movie made it all come alive in an informative and engrossing manner.

Natasha Richardson whines and bemoans her lot in life completely unconvincingly and Ralph Fiennes merely mumbles unmemorable lines with yawing boredom.

movie theaters, it is rare to encounter romantic and graceful love stories that are enjoyable to women and adults.

Really what it is is a chilly, stodgy, art class exercise.

Wonderful cast let down by dreary direction .

A disappointment, slow, uninspired.

The listing gave it just 2 of 4 stars, but as a history buff I found the description blurb compelling: "Intriguing love story, set in 1936 Shanghai, in which a disillusioned blind diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) falls for a ruined Russian royal (Natasha Richardson) working as a B-girl.

Hence, as far as the main characters were concerned, entire movie was rather lifeless and dull.

It is perhaps a little too long and doesn't quite fit together, but the rich visuals, the intriguing characters, the evocation of time and place, the richly effective musical score and the fine, nuanced acting pull you right in and keep you watching, just as all of their films have done.

Ho hum, two stars for effort.

Slow and boring.

I have read numerous reviews of this film suggesting it is dull, slow moving and tediously acted and I disagree.

Boring and over-long .

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.

The main strand which might have led to understanding the thrust of the whole film, the tenuous and spasmodic relationship between Fiennes and Mr Mazudo, an enigmatic Japanese gentleman, were never clear, nor, seemingly, particularly interesting, and the dialogue between them, as between Fiennes and our lovely countess, was banal to a point.

This film was remarkably enjoyable for me.

Slow, dull, precious, mediocre .

What was also fascinating was how desperate situations led to people transcending "normal" situations; for example, enemies could be friends and people from widely different social classes made a significant difference in each other's lives.

This is one of the very few films i have ever seen in my life where i was forced to give up, concede how bored i was, and just TURN IT OFF.

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.

The technical aspects of the production are first-rate from Christopher Doyle's lushly expert cinematography (he has done several of Wong Kar-wai's films including the dazzling "2046"); Andrew Sanders' period-perfect production design and John Bright's evocative costumes.

Seen all of Merchant Ivory films, but this one was the least enjoyable.

First, the pace was so slow and the premises were mostly unbelievable.