The Painted Veil Reviews
Set primarily in China during a cholera outbreak in 1925, The Painted Veil is about a bacteriologist that intentionally takes his young wife to a cholera-stricken village in order to punish her for her infidelity. The couple seems unsuited for each other from the very beginning, but as the stress of the crisis that they're involved in reveals different parts of their personalities to one another, they may find a way to make something less of a disaster of their marriage.
Beyond the obvious relationship aspect of The Painted Veil, it also gives a pretty startling look at how disease was treated at that time, as well as what the British footprint was like in China. I found those parts of the story to really be more interesting than the stuff between Watts and Norton. Other than their dodgy British accents, I though they were fine in their roles. It just would have been nice if events didn't play out exactly as almost anyone could have guessed after the first ten minutes.
How much you enjoy this period movie will depend directly on how much interest you can put into its fairly typical plot. I thought it was okay; no better and no worse.
It kind of fusterated me. Nonetheless the actors, the scenery, the music, and pretty much everything about this movie still keeps it insanly good. It's def, worth a look!
I did, however, find a certain timelessness to Naomi's predicament of being in a strange and foreign land, trapped with no possibility of escape. That it was only after her inprisonment (so to speak) that she was able to fully come into herself is, I suppose, the true message of the work.
There's something interesting about the casting of Naomi Watts and Edward Norton to me. I view them both as very blank-slate performers - they are actor stars through and through, bringing almost none of their real-life personalities to the screen. This is a huge asset to the movie; it really amplifies that scintillating 1930s romance movie sensation, where all that mattered was the love you saw between these two people on screen. These were two very interesting roles for Watts and Norton to tackle. The former is cold and selfish; she is clever, but not enough to remove herself out of the problems she creates. Her avarice is tempered by a lack of world experience - this trip is perfect for her, and Watts nails the turn of character that is certain to ensure. Norton, who has made a career of playing violent men, flourishes in a role that is gentle without being passive. His character exudes emotion and sense.
The characters are interesting, but The Painted Veil really makes use of its setting. Cholera-torn, warring China is a fantastic place to put a tale of romantic redemption. There is so much material to enhance the meaning of their relationship: an orphanage full of kids who lost their parents to the disease, or a riot in the streets that becomes awfully threatening to the rich white woman on the rickshaw. Conflict springs forth naturally from the surroundings; nothing that happens in The Painted Veil ever seems forced. It's a very natural movie in every sense, which really counts for a lot.
This isn't the type of film you can describe very well to someone else without giving away the storyline, so I just recommend that you watch it.