28th April, 2008
The Painted Veil (M)
In A Word: Picturesque
MATTERS OF THE HEART: Naomi Watts stars as Kitty, a spoilt and snobby ssocialite who has an affair with diplomat Charles Townsend (played by Liev Schreiber).
"'The Painted Veil' is a very good film, however a big flaw lies in Curran’s inability to let his lead characters love for one another to mature, a move which inevitably comes back to haunt the film during several pivotal scenes that should have been filled with emotion, yet is disappointingly void of feeling."
The Painted Veil is a very well made period piece set during a politically tumultuous time in Chinese history.
Set during the 1920s, the film stars Naomi Watts as Kitty, a spoilt and snobby socialite from a well-off family who marries bacteriologist and civil servant Dr Walter Fey (Edward Norton) in order to please her parents. They both move to Shanghai where Edward has been stationed at a Government lab, and Kitty embarks on an affair with British diplomat and womanizer Charles Townsend (Liev Schreiber).
When Edward finds out about Kitty’s infidelity, he punishes her by volunteering himself as a town doctor in a cholera infested village in mainland China. Yet only when they found themselves in a strange land during a devastating time do Kitty and Edward finally begin to understand and love each other.
Director John Curran has crafted a visually rich and subtle melodrama, with cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh providing plenty of picturesque imagery of the Chinese countryside. Also, film composer Alexandre Desplat provides a moving score which masterfully backs up the films scenery.
The film is bolstered by the performances of its two lead actors who flesh out there characters rather well, brining depth and humility along with a reserved charm which their British counterparts do so well. The bitterness that their two characters feel for each other is properly conveyed, and the sweet and often humorous courtship that follows also works very well.
Supporting roles are filled quite nicely by the likes of Toby Jones, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, a devilishly charming Live Schreiber, and former Avengers TV star Diana Rigg who is exceptional as the Mother Superior of a Catholic run orphanage and hospital.
The Painted Veil is a very good film, however a big flaw lies in Curran’s inability to let his lead characters love for one another to mature, a move which inevitably comes back to haunt the film during several pivotal scenes that should have been filled with emotion, yet is disappointingly void of feeling. However, overall the film is an enjoyable watch which is pretty to look at, and features several memorable performances.
THE SIGHT ON THE SCREEN ARCHIVES FOR MORE...