The Painted Veil
I am embarrassed to admit this, but it proves my point about the movie. During The Painted Veil, I fell asleep for about a minute. It’s horribly unprofessional (and quite frightening to discover you are the one who is snoring), but also shows you how boring the movie can be, even when you are getting paid to be attentive.
Naomi Watts stars as Kitty – a 1920’s party girl who has driven her rich family to the brink of financially cutting her off unless she gets her act together (if only the Hilton family would do the same). To get away from them, Kitty decides to marry Walter (Edward Norton) – a bacteriologist who studies germs and diseases (I hope he washes his hands thoroughly before coming home). While she is outgoing and always the belle of the ball, he is shy and awkward, but deeply in love with her in ways that she is not in love with him.
Along the way,
has engaged in a heated affair with the society circuit’s
most charming (but
married) man, Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber), who seems to have
Kitty finds attractive in the opposite sex, everything that is lacking
in Walter. However,
when her husband finds out, he signs
up to travel to the most remote and desolate part of
Will Kitty be able to withstand the journey? What does Walter have planned for her thousands of miles away from the world they know?
The Painted Veil is a bland movie desperately seeking some excitement, and one oddly structured in reverse. Writer Ron Nyswaner (based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham) has the “break up” and scandal happen early on, then uses the rest of the movie to show us the relationship between Walter and Kitty, how they appear to be growing together, and the final resolution to their marriage (Watts admitted this part of the story on a late night program, so don’t blame me for giving anything away). Admittedly, it’s nice to see something different, but one is left to wonder how Walter, who seems so outraged by the entire affair, would be willing to forgive Kitty so easily, especially with so much intimation early on that he is going to do something fairly horrible to her.
I guess it’s supposed to be a love story as she learns to appreciate the man who isn’t as flashy and charming, but reliable and goodhearted as they face great difficulty, but the movie needs more, even if we are supposed to feel Kitty has changed. Director John Curran fills The Painted Veil with all of these long musical montages that don’t advance the story, only briefly touch upon the unrest in China and the coming revolution, and are more for showing how he and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh can capture the landscape (I guess they were going for that Best Cinematography Oscar). With the biggest, most shocking moments happening early on, we need something to drive the story.
All of this
leaves Norton and
The Painted Veil is like one of those typical Oscar bait type of films that haven’t been Oscar bait in about 10 years.
1 ½ Waffles (Out Of 4)
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