The Painted Veil - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Painted Veil Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 19, 2010
The photography is stunning but the outstanding performances by Watts and Norton are what really elevates this honest material to a memorable experience, as they give shape to complex characters in an extremely involving drama about resentment, forgiveness and love.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2011
A movie I was completely unaware of, and therefor surprised by... very pleasantly surprised by. It gets a little montage-y toward the end, and the odd shot is clumsy, but Norton and Watts are outstanding in this adaptation of Somerset Maugham's classic. A fine, exotic historical romance - see it!
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2010
Visually stunning at times, The Painted Veil is a heartwarming love story. The refreshing part of this love story is it shows the effort to find love, accept love and to forgive.
Super Reviewer
September 21, 2010
Definitely a well thought out plot with great actors and incredible cinematography. The use of widescreen is flawless. Where this movie falls short is the political standpoint and emotional draw, ultimately you don't care as much as they want you to. That makes it sappy at times, but isn't that bad in an overall sense. Obviously you're seeing it for Edward Norton or Naomi Watts, who both do a great job.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2010
"We humans are more complex than your silly little microbes. We're unpredictable. We make mistakes and we disappoint."

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.
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2008
Set in the 1920s an English couple marry hastily. The wife has an affair and to punish her, her husband takes them to Shanghai where there is a deadly epidemic. Good cast. Unexpected ending. Beautiful scenery.
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2009
A beautiful lovestory. Not a typical Love Story. Tiny bit near to real life.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2007
The wages of sin come at a terrible heavy price but also with some outstanding acting in this interesting drama.
Super Reviewer
August 13, 2008
There's a little bit of everything for everyone in this movie. I could of done without the ending (not the emotionally ending - but no reference to anything within the story afterwords ). I understand this is about a husband and wife finding a love that was never there prior, but why revolve it around such a solid storyline without doing anything with it.

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!
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2008
Bitter, spiteful, erotic, complicated love story. Beautiful landscapes and music. Naomi Watts is the portrait of earnest repentance borne of aristocratic boredom. Ed Norton just doesn't do it for me anymore although his Mandarin pronunciation is decent. Glad to see a mature, funny side of Yu Xia from Electric Shadows, "Martini?"
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2008
This movie offers the moving lessons about fragile, surprising, and redemptive nature of true love!
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2008
Beautifully filmed, with a wonderful score, this is a period piece that has some very nice touches (the drunken expatriot with his mistress and a fine performance by Dianna Rigg as mother superior). Still, The script at times seemed dated - only by showing their good deeds could the two central charactors receive the admiration and then affection of each other; to reconcile after her terrible affront to him. Edward Norton in particular seemed very hemmed in by the script - I felt that more could have been done to show the heartbreak of his charactor - instead he seemed somewhat boorish (but rightfully so) which made his ultimate reversal and reacceptance of his original feelings for Naomi seem contrived - intead of a gradual chipping away at his resolve and need to punish.

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.
Super Reviewer
February 5, 2007
Not the kind of movie you want to watch while you're swirling around in emotional limbo. The Painted Veil is a stirring lesson about transience and atonement. It is a fine fusion of Hollywood classicism and modern-day romance with a shot of Eastern aesthetic thrown in for flavor; it is familiar yet unique, and certainly memorable in its own right.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ October 13, 2007
Some touching moments, but pretty boring and uninteresting.
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2008
This film is extroadinary. An amasing, unforgettable and breathtaking romance of the best calibur. Thrilling, gripping, astonishing and exhilerating. In the true form of a masterpiece. A film such as this should not be missed. Truly beautiful and superbly shot. It's excellently told and performed. Remarkable, sensational and wonderful. Absolutely absorbing and magnificent. The locations and the landscapes are incrediable, it has a great sense of scope and scale. It has performances that will be remembered for years. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts are outstanding. Toby Jones is brilliant.
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2007
Worthy of all the recommendations, I received, I guess this story fits my liking for tragic romances. The views of China are breathtaking and great performances from Norton and Watts who managed to pass as sounding English where so many fail.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2008
A somewhat predictable movie. English couple marry for the wrong reasons, marriage undergoes difficulty, they venture out to fight a dangerous cholera epidemic and find their meaning in life. Predictable or not, it is a pretty good movie.
Super Reviewer
November 4, 2007
A well crafted film, nicely directed and such breathtaking scenery. A good complex love story that was not at all predictable, but fascinating to watch. Superb performance from Edward Norton as the dull but mysterious Dr. Fane, also a good performance from Naomi Watts as the desperately lonely wife. Interesting watch but only for those with patience.
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2007
I didn't love it, though I really thought I would. A minor disappointment.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2007
The simply perfect photography here brngs to life the lush landscapes of China. Highlighting every tone, texture and colour. The interiors are just as well shot, usually at ight and using little light for a haunting and calming effect. The film itself is just excellent in everyway. Norton and Watts are not only convincing with their accents, but also in mannerisms and emotions. Not so much a romance, as an anti-romance that blossoms into pure passion as each character searches for redemption. Redemption here being a big thing as characters wrestle with right and wrongs in 1920's China. The two leads have possibly one of the best chosen supporting casts including a wonderfully warm turn from Toby Jones (Dobby the House Elf), a strong yet caring Officer by Wong (Infernal Affairs) and a loving still possibly sinister Diana Rigg (The Avengers). Escorting the fantastic visuals and cast is a soundtrack comprised mainly of a piano solo score and like the film it is powerful but always dreamlike. The love story is handled so well that we see it planted, cared for and grow before us and only has a few cliched lines, which happily fall under the radar.
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