Bolstered by a strong ensemble-- "Infamous's" Toby Jones as a deputy commissioner gone native, and a wonderfully wrinkled Diana Rigg as a Mother Superior, speaking up for disillusioned decency--and by the ecstatic cinematography of Stuart Dryburgh, The Painted Veil lifts Maugham's story clear of its prissy, attenuated spirituality, and into genuine passion.
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The Painted Veil has all the elements in place to be a great epic, but it fails to connect, to paraphrase Maugham's contemporary E.M. Forster, the prose with the passion. It's impeccable, but leaves you cold.
The Painted Veil is a welcome addition to the slate of holiday movies, particularly for those drawn to intriguing tales of multi-dimensional characters in exotic settings.
If The Painted Veil ultimately lacks some of the novelty and ambition of the year's best pictures, it still ranks as one of 2006's quiet gems.
A lot takes place during The Painted Veil's two-hour running length, but most of what happens occurs within the hearts and minds of the leads.
John Curran's pretty melodrama rubs off a few of the barbed edges from W. Somerset Maugham's 1925 novel about love and infidelity in a time of cholera, but no matter: the centerpiece is Naomi Watts' outstanding portrayal of an adulteress redeemed.
The film is unusual in that it is a co-production with the Chinese. Whatever difficulties this imposed on the Western filmmakers, the reward is a period film that feel authentic to its time and place.
Whether through craft or constitution, Mr. Norton invests Walter with a petty cruelty that makes his character’s emotional thaw and Kitty’s predicament all the more poignant.
The Painted Veil has the power and intimacy of a timeless love story. By all means, let it sweep you away.
Intelligent scripting, solid thesping and eye-catching location shooting aren't enough to make a compelling modern film of The Painted Veil.