The Painted Veil


The Painted Veil

Critics Consensus

Visually, The Painted Veil has all the trappings of a stuffy period drama, but Norton's and Watts's deft portrayals of imperfect, complicated characters give the film a modern-day spark.



Total Count: 144


Audience Score

User Ratings: 55,299
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Movie Info

Set in the 1920s, this love story is about a young English couple (a doctor and a society girl) who marry hastily. They relocate to Hong Kong where they betray each other easily, but then they find an unexpected chance at redemption and happiness while on a deadly journey into the heart of ancient China.


Naomi Watts
as Kitty Fane
Edward Norton
as Walter Fane
Liev Schreiber
as Charlie Townsend
Diana Rigg
as Mother Superior
Toby Jones
as Waddington
Catherine An
as Hostess
Juliet Howland
as Dorothy Townsend
Anthony Wong
as Colonel Yu
Li Bin
as Te-Ming
Maggie Steed
as Mrs. Garstin
Lorraine Laurence
as Sister Maryse
Marie-Laure Descoureaux
as Sister St. Joseph
Johnny Lee
as Angry Chinese Man
Li Feng
as Sung Ching
Alan David
as Mr. Garstin
Lucy Voller
as Doris Garstin
Feng Ligang
as Sung Ching
Ian Rennick
as Geoffrey Denison
Yin Qing
as Student 2
Wu Bin
as Student No. 1, Student 1
Cheng Shihan
as Warlord Kwei
Liang Sijie
as Student No. 3
Liang Sigie
as Student 3
Henry Sylow
as Walter Junior
Lu Yan
as Wan Xi
Yu Xia
as Wu Lien
Ma Yun
as Student 4
Lin Zheng
as Chinese Opera Star
Yao Tian Hua
as Singing Orphan
Wu Di
as Singing Orphan
Liu Yue Qi
as Singing Orphan
Li Zhuo Er
as Singing Orphan
Hu Jia Yi
as Singing Orphan
Guo Yu Tong
as Singing Orphan
Zhao Wei Xin
as Singing Orphan
Chen Xiangqi
as Singing Orphan
Shi Tong Xuan
as Singing Orphan
Tang Yu Xin
as Singing Orphan
Cheng Yu Yang
as Singing Orphan
Guo Jia Hui
as Singing Orphan
Huang Yi Yuan
as Singing Orphan
Xu Shu Hao
as Singing Orphan
Fei Yue
as Singing Orphan
Meng Ting Yu
as Singing Orphan
Cheng Zhu Yue
as Singing Orphan
Gao Qiao Jia Li
as Singing Orphan
Ming Fang
as Singing Orphan
Tan Ya Zuo
as Singing Orphan
John Cann
as Businessman in Colony Club
Maurice Herschtal
as Businessman in Colony Club
Bill Marcus
as Businessman in Colony Club
Shobauro Hiratsuka
as Businessman in Colony Club
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News & Interviews for The Painted Veil

Critic Reviews for The Painted Veil

All Critics (144) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (107) | Rotten (37)

Audience Reviews for The Painted Veil

  • Oct 08, 2015
    The Painted Veil has the ingredients of a great film, including cinematography (alternatively lush and parched) and high-caliber actors. I admired the potraiture of people as people -- complex, determined, adaptable. I would recommend it for a view on these counts alone. The film is lacking in a few respects. The plot does not drive the film but complicates it. The politics involved with the military, villagers, warlords, etc. are distracting and prevent the emotional tensions between the two main characters from playing out in the foreground. The lack of a memorable scoring contributes to the overall lack of emotional punch to the movie. Still, it is an interesting story and is visually gorgeous, so the Painted Veil is, nonetheless, worth a look.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 21, 2013
    The environment is richer than the characters: first flaw. Consequently, you do not care about the relationship of the protagonists: second flaw. The cinematography and some moments of believable language accuracy cannot save this relationship from drowning into film oblivion and being killed by cholera. Yet, this serves as one more proof that Naomi Watts is an actress capable of pulling off complicated roles. Except in King Kong. 62/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Mar 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!
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Jan 09, 2011
    The Painted Veil. Well produced, but without purpose. I think by tomorrow I will have forgotten most of the plot of The Painted Veil. Not that it was extremely boring (though it kinda was), I just didn't see what was so astonishing or different about a couple who never loved each other until the last ten minutes of the movie. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts were very convincing, but I didn't find their characters very compelling. "Oh, she's cheating on the husband that she so obviously has no feelings for... meh." In fact the word "meh" can describe most of this movie, namely the scenes involving the love story and cholera epidemic (oh wait, that's the whole movie). I know this is harsh, but I've heard such good things about The Painted Veil, and I felt like it didn't deliver. The book might be a classic, but the film seems highly overrated to me. Why 30%? I'll lay down the math. 10 points for Edward Norton, 10 points for the sometimes mediocre but still artistic cinematography, and then 10 more for the couple of scenes that demanded emotional involvement. Extra: It takes a lot for me to not like a film with Edward Norton. If you're reading this, and would like to find solace in a compelling Norton performance, go for American History X. It was early on in his career, but he's amazing in it. Yes, I'll also recommend Fight Club.
    Luke T Super Reviewer

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