Monday, January 15, 2007

Review: The Painted Veil

Today I coerced, um, convinced my dear husband to go with me to see the movie The Painted Veil, based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel. It stars Edward Norton (a favorite of mine!) and Naomi Watts, along with Liev Schrieber and Toby Jones. I thought it was excellent--my husband liked it, but thought it a bit slow and somewhat boring (boring?! Is he crazy?!).

It tells the story of Kitty (Watts), a shallow, self-centered young British woman in the 1920's who marries Walter Bane (Norton), a repressed yet earnest bacteriolgist--whom she barely knows. He's not her type, but, with her younger sister's engagement, she fears being 'left on the shelf' and wishes to escape a manipulative mother. So, marry Walter she does, and off they go to Shangai (where Walter has been living, working in a British government laboratory). In Shanghai, Kitty grows bored with her husband and has an affair with a slick, charming married man (the fabulous Schrieber). When Walter finds out about Kitty's affair, he takes her to a cholera-ridden area in inland China (okay, it's a little more complicated than that, but I don't want to include spoilers), where he has volunteered his services as a doctor and infectious disease specialist.

It is here, in the remote, dangerous village, where the pair finally get know each other, and grow as characters. I won't spoil it further with details, but it is a beautiful, sumptuous film with superb acting and gorgeous cinematography. Definitely a bit of an old-school melodrama, but an engaging one. By the end, you will care deeply about both Kitty and Walter(amazing considering Kitty's character at the beginning).

Bottom line....I highly recommend it! Overall, I'd give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Yes, it's a little slow moving, and clocks in at exactly 2 hrs., but I think it's 2 hrs. well spent. Particularly if, like me, you find Ed Norton super-sexy!


john said...

i thought it was much harder to like norton's character. she was spoiled, but he was boring compared w/schreiber's character. & he threated to strangle her & took w/him to die. i hope you don't go in for that kind of guy.

given her parents trying to pass her off like a farm animal, how could you blame her for being what she was. not a lot of opportunities for women in those days.

meardaba said...

Oooh, that one sounds amazing. I'll have to tell my mum, she loves W. Somerset Maugham.

Did you read the book first, or just watched the movie? Does it make you want to read the book?

Kristina Cook said...

I actually ordered the book last night! The only other Maugham I've read is Of Human Bondage.

John, I promise I don't go for that sort of guy! I just thought he grew by the end--and genuinely felt bad for having forced her there. Not to mention it was actually the experience of being there that precipitated her own growth, so maybe I forgive his behavior more easily because of that. I don't know...I just know that I liked them both by the end, and felt they had both made mistakes and learned from them.

Perhaps I'm also more able to forgive his faults because he ultimately paid the price for them.

I think they were very complex, complicated characters--not your stock, one-dimensional character--which made them seem real and human.

angela said...

I almost saw this yesterday.. now I wish I had!

Ann Christopher said...

Hi, Kristi--

I dunno about this movie. Sounds like it's not a traditional romance. But you did think it had a satisfying ending, right?


Kristina Cook said...

Well, there is a satisfying romance arc, as far as I'm concerned. But...ahem....a tragic ending.

Eve Silver said...

This sounds like a great story. I'll definitely add it to my "rent" list.

Speaking of romantic movies, I watched The Illusionist last night. I thought it was quite entertaining and I really liked the ending.

Kristina Cook said...

I am DYING to see The Illusionist (the Ed Norton thing, of course!). I was going to rent it, but maybe I'll just order it from Amazon! I've heard such great things about it.

Colleen Gleason said...

Oooh. I want to see that one too.

And the other one I want to see is the one with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman...can't remember the name for now....but I love this trend of turn of the century magicians!