White Countess, The
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: -2

This war drama tells the story of a Russian countesswho is forced toprostitute herselfafter her husband dies in order to provide for her aristocratic family.Although the ravages of war in the 1930s have brought thefamily topoverty level, they still try to maintain their dignity as the white upper classwhile living in the slums of Shanghai.Sofia Belinsky (Natasha Richardson)is classy even as she becomes alady of the night to feed her 10-year-old daughter and in-laws (Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave and others) who hide themselves out of the way of public shame and their provider, whom they see as disgraceful.Blind Todd Jackson (Ralph Fiennes), a former American diplomat who frequents the clubs,acts on his dream to create the perfect gentlemens club, which he names The White Countess. He offers Sofia the job as hostess, guarantees no sexual contact,and eventually falls in love with her.

The Redgraves, as usual, perform their parts superbly. This warm but heart-wrenching film has prostitution as its theme, but the director seems to take great carenot to flaunt sexual and other immoral acts while still portraying the negative consequences of war.The sexuality is presented much of the time as innuendo. Most of the scenes take place in the clubs where the women earn their living through promiscuous sex in an environment of excessive smoking and drinking.Nobody is shown in the act, and there is no nudity. The violence is not graphic and is related to the war, except one shoving scene between Jackson and a man who speaks disrespectfully to Sofia. The strong performances and intriguing setting make this enjoyable entertainment for adults.

Preview Reviewer: Renee Borner
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Crude Language: Few times mild (hell 1)
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Many times mild(shovingand struggling,battle scenes withminimal life loss, nongraphic shooting); moderate (property damage from bombs, graphic injuries with blood)
Sexual Intercourse: Many times mild(sensual kissing between Jackson and Sofia);moderate (positive portrayal of premarital and promiscuous sex)
Nudity: Few times mild (near nudity with character in bra andslip)
Homosexual Conduct: Few times moderate (same-sex dancing and caressing)
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Few times mild (several leering/suggestive looks)
Drug Abuse: Many times mild(smoking, alcohol use); moderate(drunkenness portrayed asacceptable)
Other: Animism portrayed as characters rub a lion statue as if for good luck
Running Time: 135 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults and Teens

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