The Painted Veil: 2 & ½ Stars (out of 5)
Not content to just give us yet another new film about adultery, Hollywood has decided to remake old ones as well. Joy. There’s nothing horrible about the new version of The Painted Veil but there’s nothing that memorable about it either. It’s just there. It will divert your attention if you happen to see it, at least for a time, but if you chose to skip it you won’t really miss anything worth mentioning. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? I don’t know why the studio’s marketing folks didn’t use it for the poster.
Kitty (Naomi Watts) is a rich and spoiled daughter who decides to marry a medical researcher, and friend of her father, Walter Fane (Edward Norton) to placate her mother and secure her future. Kitty doesn’t love Walter, and struggles with his quiet and introverted manner.
Kitty becomes infatuated with another married man (Liev Schreiber) and begins a torrid affair. On discovering his wife’s infidelity Walter offers her the choice of divorce or to go with him into a remote region of China that is experiencing a cholera epidemic.
Unable to deal with the disgrace of divorce Kitty joins her husband in his medical research, knowing it could well be a death sentence for her, and discovers a new understanding of herself, Walter, and the world.
Though not a horrible film, it is rather pointless. Nothing here demanded a remake from the 1934 film, nor is anything significant added.
It terms of performance I found the film lacking. In a film concerning an English couple director John Curran casts an Australian and an American – both who seem incapable of an English accent.
I like Naomi Watts but she’s certainly no Greta Garbo. She also seems to have a knack for taking roles in films that I could care less about, though at least this is better than her two films from last year (King Kong and Stay). Of course there isn’t much that wouldn’t be an improvement over those films, including a hard shot to the groin, so it’s a minimal step-up at best.
The film has some nice cinematography and lovely shots of mountains and streams. It looks pretty enough, but there’s just nothing there behind the surface beauty. If the film were a person it would be a Hooters waitress. Hey, that would look great on a poster, wouldn’t it?