The Painted Veil

"Good"

The Painted Veil Review


In its space, pacing, and plot dynamics, John Curran's The Painted Veil has an inherent nostalgia for Hollywood yesteryear. Never as shrewd as to reference it ad-nauseum (see Nancy Meyers' The Holiday), Curran's love story in the time of cholera accepts its rather sparse elements and lush landscapes as a way to reconnect with the simplicity of story and intricacy of image that classic Hollywood prided itself on, even if the attempt isn't wholly successful.It's at a 1920s London socialite meeting that Walter Fane (Edward Norton) gets his first glimpse at Kitty (Naomi Watts). Under a rather light dress, she ignores men as if she wasn't even aware of her attire, but Walter's fascination is adamant and quite terminal. Swiftly, Fane asks for her hand in marriage at a local flower shop which Kitty accepts solely to prove her mother wrong. This genuine shallowness and pride makes Walter the bacteriologist look quite boring and married Vice Consul Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber) look so appealing. It's when Walter learns of Kitty's adultery that he decides to take up an opportunity to study a cholera epidemic in the Chinese village of Mai-tan-fu, insisting that his wife accompany him.The couple's mutual bitterness toward each other doesn't so much set up a rousing battle of the sexes as it becomes a divider that allows them both to explore the plague-stricken remnants of Mai-tan-fu. As Walter investigates the water supply under the surveillance of Colonel Yu (Anthony Wong), Kitty becomes a regular fixture of the orphanage that is run by the Mother Superior (a no-bull Diana Rigg). Their only common bond when they arrive is Waddington (Toby Jones), a cynical Deputy Commissioner who is the only other Englishman in Mai-tan-fu. It's through a gently built admiration of each other's work that they begin to notice each other again.Constructed by a solid script by Ron Nyswaner, Curran seems dead-set on keeping the conflict and characters clear-cut. Watts and Norton, two consummate professionals, use each their characters' flaws (his boredom, her vanity) to ignore the serious danger of contagion. Similar to his first feature, Curran's fascination seems to be with the vastness of nature seen as a place of intimacy. Though nothing here matches the work in We Don't Live Here Anymore (another Curran-Watts collaboration), the film has a fluidity of imagery that paints Mai-tan-fu as very personal area for Walter and Kitty, its danger and isolation both seen clearly.Curran's heaving romance is reminiscent of classic displaced love, but there's a meandering mood to it that's hard to shake. It's not particularly boring, but its fascinations with character and landscapes are often fleeting. When Kitty and Walter finally embrace each other fully, it's not long before another passable conflict arises, and it's soon followed by yet another one. At other moments, its fascination with classic Hollywood seems horrifyingly blatant: As Walter gallops away to stop an impending cholera outbreak, the hat on his head blows off as his white shirt writhes in the wind. And yet, these awkward moments never seem to be of great detriment to Curran's seething romance nor to his haunting imagery that seems to have the specter of the cholera epidemic looming overhead like a rain cloud. Short of a "Here's looking at you, kid," The Painted Veil is an apt visitation to the curious romances of the old days. Smell me.


The Painted Veil

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th January 2007

Box Office USA: $7.9M

Distributed by: Warner Independent Pictures

Production compaines: WIP, Stratus Film Co., Bob Yari Productions, Class 5 Films, The Colleton Company, Dragon Studios, Emotion Pictures, The Mark Gordon Company, Warner China Film HG Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 106 Rotten: 37

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Walter Fane, as Dorothy Townsend, as Kitty Fane, Ian Renwick as Geoffrey Denison (as Ian Rennick), as Charlie Townsend, as Waddington, as Mother Superior, Zoe Telford as Leona, as Colonel Yu, Marie-Laure Descoureaux as Sister St. Joseph, as Dorothy Townsend, Lorraine Laurence as Sister Maryse

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.