The Painted Veil movie poster
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The Painted Veil movie poster

The Painted Veil Movie Review

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A film that has, by and large, flown completely under the radar throughout awards season, The Painted Veil stars Edward Norton and Naomi Watts as an unhappy married couple who travel to remote China to confront a cholera outbreak. The movie offers good performances, a moving story and beautiful scenery, so why the heck aren't more people talking about it?

Watts stars as Kitty Fane, a woman who travels from London to Shanghai with her husband, Walter (Norton), despite the fact she has never loved him. Her lack of passion for him leads to an affair with another man (Liev Schreiber), but affairs can only go on so long before being discovered. Cholera breaks out in a small, isolated village in the middle of China, and Walter gives her a choice: he'll file for divorce, which would ruin her reputation, or she can go with him. They move into the home of a recently-deceased family and Walter goes to work, while Kitty finds herself bored beyond belief. But as time goes on, she slowly finds her place and discovers that she can actually love the man who has grown to despise her.

The Painted Veil offers up two great leading actors, amazing scenery and a powerful love story that grabs the audience and doesn't let go. The movie doesn't try to be overly innovative, and perhaps this is the reason the film isn't receiving award recognition, but worse films have been nominated for Best Picture. The movie is emotionally engaging and is relatively flawless.

Watts and Norton are very good in their respective roles, and play well off one another even though they hate each other for much of the film. Watts is especially good as a wife who neither loves her husband nor gets much respect. She manages to carry a character who the audience may feel pity for yet may not like, as she is somewhat of a spoiled brat in many ways. Norton once again impresses with a character we have not seen him do before. Still, The Painted Veil does not feature either actors' finest performance, as the two have both been incredible in more extraordinary roles in the past.

All in all, The Painted Veil is a very good movie that deserves more recognition than it has received. The movie is not unlike previous romantic dramas in many ways, but everything that was put into it - the direction, screenplay, acting, cinematography - makes it a powerful, moving romantic epic.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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