The Painted Veil, starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, tells of a love story set in the 1920s about a young English couple – a conservative bacteriologist and a restless society girl – who marry hastily, even though only one of them is in love with the other.
Their bond is put to the test when they relocate to Shanghai. There, they betray each other ever so willfully, yet find an unexpected chance at redemption and happiness while on a deadly journey into the heart of ancient China – into a cholera epidemic, no less.
As the trailer of this terrific film teased, sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people.
Although at first glance the distance that exists between Watts’ Kitty Fane and Norton’s Walter Fane may appear insurmountable, it soon becomes evident that the two are truly meant to be together – in spite of their objections.
Their transformative road toward love is made all the more mesmerizing to watch by the strong performances delivered by both past Academy Award nominees (she for 2003’s 21 Grams; he for 1996’s Primal Fear and 1998’s American History X), and by script that enviably balances affection with wickedness.
Do not let the distance between this Decemberist and you widen, for I’m sure that, if anything, you will enjoy the film’s gorgeous locations (The Painted Veil was allowed to shoot in China, something that doesn’t happen all that often due to that country’s strict filmmaking regulations), as well as Alexandre Desplat Golden Globe-winning score.
My Rating ****
Photo: Warner Independent Pictures.