Review #352 of 365
Movie Review of The Painted Veil (2006) [PG-13] 104 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $14.50
Where Viewed: Landmark Chez Artiste, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 30 December 2006
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Film's Official Website
DVD Release Date: unscheduled
Directed by: John Curran (We Don't Live Here Anymore)
Screenplay by: Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham
Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Edward Norton (The Illusionist) • Naomi Watts (Ellie Parker) • Liev Schreiber (The Omen) • Toby Jones (Infamous) • Diana Rigg ("The Avengers") • Henry Sylow (debut) • Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (Isabella)
Soundtrack: order the CD below
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An open invitation from Kitty's father to visit their home any time, lands Walter the opportunity to spot Kitty and fall into love at first sight. Kitty and Walter are quickly married and off to Shaghai, before Kitty is able to fully comprehend the dull life and stoic, while heroic and well-meaning husband she has acquired. Within weeks of relocation, she strikes up an affair with a married, English diplomat named Charlie Townsend (Live Schreiber), provoking the last straw in Walter's 'wait and see approach' to their marriage. Giving her two alternatives: join him in a cholera ravaged region of rural China where he has volunteered to serve as the region's doctor after the town's medical contingency falls victim to the epidemic or accept his immediate request for divorce on the grounds of her adulterous behavior. She had thought him too preoccupied with his work to notice her plight and then her subsequent rebirth in the arms of Charlie, alas he caught on to her duplicitous ways in no time.
" The Painted Veil stands out among great films such as The English Patient and Out of Africa…Culturally and historically powerful, the film's screenplay and story take on epic proportions yielding a timeless love story"
While set in a spectacular region of China known for beautiful mountains, the signs of the epidemic and the horrible spread of death loom largely casting a net of gloom over the entire area. Culturally and historically powerful, the film's screenplay and story take on epic proportions yielding a timeless love story about two people, worlds apart emotionally, who are given an opportunity under incredibly adverse mental, physical, and social conditions to discover the true meaning of love and the good in each other. Edward Norton's understated performance pales in comparison to his role as The Illusionist; yet, as usual, he breathes incredible life into an otherwise inwardly focused character. Naomi Watts, however, steals the film. Really, this is a story about Kitty, not Walter, and Ms Watts illuminates the role. She begins as a girl unable to see her own reflection and evolves into a radiant, determined, charismatic, energetic woman willing to take risks, push her limits, and emerge not only a better person, but a woman who truly can be self-sufficient. John Curran has created an outstanding film that, while tragic much of the time, is also liberating. He understands the history well, and the results of his labors should thrill fans of period pieces. In her stunning and insightful portrayal of Kitty Fane, Naomi Watts may well have eclipsed the great Gretta Garbo who played the similar role in the 1934 film version of the story, and has positioned herself as a worthy leading lady (even without a gargantuan gorilla sidekick) and one of the top actresses of her generation. She and Norton fulfill the film's tag line, "Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people."
The film has a tragic ending with a bittersweet conclusion that shows how truly far Kitty Fane has come in her evolution as a modern woman. She had thought the idea of arranged marriage positively pre-historic; and, in the end, discovered much more than she bargained for. The Painted Veil stands out among great films such as The English Patient and Out of Africa in their featuring of incredible love stories that survive the test of time. With splendor and grandeur, though, The Painted Veil details a bit more of the personal journey of the female protagonist providing greater insight into her transformation than the others. It would be a tragedy for this film to be overlooked this year as Academy Award® voters begin their nomination considerations. At the very least, Naomi Watts deserves a long, hard look as does the film.
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Other Projects Featuring The Painted Veil (2006)
Edward Norton • Naomi Watts • Liev Schreiber • Toby Jones • Diana Rigg • Henry Sylow • Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Screen Play Writer
The Painted Veil (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]