Film: The Painted Veil

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Film:

The Painted Veil

Director: John Curran
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Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures

A love story set in the 1920s that tells the story of a young English couple, a middle class doctor and an upper-class woman, who get married for the wrong reasons and relocate to Shanghai, where she falls in love with someone else. When he uncovers her infidelity, in an act of vengeance, he accepts a job in a remote village in China ravaged by a deadly epidemic, and takes her along. Their journey brings meaning to their relationship and gives them purpose in one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth.

Based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil is a love story set in the 1920s that tells the story of a young English couple, Walter (Edward Norton), a middle class doctor and Kitty (Naomi Watts), an upper-class woman, who get married for the wrong reasons and relocate to Shanghai, where she falls in love with someone else. When he uncovers her infidelity, in an act of vengeance, he accepts a job in a remote village in China ravaged by a deadly epidemic, and takes her along. Their journey brings meaning to their relationship and gives them purpose in one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth.

Reviews

Amazon.com

Produced by Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, The Painted Veil works well as a movie—even better as an actor’s showcase. The year is 1925. When her domineering mother pressures her to marry, Kitty (Watts) settles for shy bacteriologist Walter (Norton). Then Walter is transferred from London to Shanghai and the lonely and bored Kitty drifts into an affair with married diplomat Charlie (Liev Schreiber). When Walter finds out, he makes a startling proposition: either Kitty accompanies him to the cholera-infested countryside or he’ll divorce her. With no other prospects, she comes along on what looks like a double-suicide mission. Based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil was adapted by Philadelphia's Ron Nyswaner (who knows a little something about infectious diseases). As two previous versions made little impact—despite Garbo’s presence in the 1934 melodrama—John Curran’s film is sure to stand as definitive. Interestingly, Norton, who studied Chinese history at Yale, chose Watts as his co-star, while Watts chose Curran, for whom she appeared in 2004’s underrated We Don’t Live Here Anymore. Filmed on location, the handsome production is, in many respects, just as old-fashioned as its source material—sex is merely suggested and Kitty is shocked that their English neighbor (Toby Jones) has a Chinese lover—but the ending packs a feminist twist. Mostly though, The Painted Veil is about the acting, and Watts and Norton, along with Diana Rigg as a disillusioned Mother Superior, have rarely been better. —Kathleen C. Fennessy

Related Works

Album:The Painted Veil: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Painted Veil: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Alexandre Desplat

The evocative score features music composed and conducted by Alexandre Desplat, the Prague Symphony Orchestra as well as solos by world-renowned pianist, Lang Lang.

Book:The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil

W. Somerset Maugham

Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love.

The Painted Veil is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, to change, and to forgive.

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