The painted veil, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated period films that I have ever seen. In fact, as far as I can remember, apart from the Oscar-winning 1996 classic drama “The English Patient” this is the only film which does complete justice to the novel from which it has been adapted. I must say it came across as a pleasant surprise to me.
The storyline is quite straightforward but unconventional. Walter Fane, played by Edward Norton, is a reserved, introverted, nerdy microbiologist who falls in love with Kitty (Naomi Watts), a selfish, gorgeous and shallow socialite who marries him only to escape her mother. As the film proceeds, we find out how the shy and modest doctor completely undergoes a transformation and drags his unfaithful wife to one of the remotest villages of china in the midst of a cholera outbreak in order to take his revenge. The rest of the film takes place in China and also takes into account the political turmoil and anti-British movements going on in China during the 1920s. The screenplay does go a bit haywire in the second half but the stellar performances will keep you glued to the film till its last moments.
The characterization is almost perfect and all the actors have well-written and brilliantly etched-out characters. As the film progresses, both the characters learn to forgive, forget, sacrifice, love and evolve into completely different and improved human beings. This film also helps us rethink the fact that how two individuals who do have a different mindsets eventually fall apart. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts share incredible chemistry and both of them have delivered Oscar-worthy performances. The best thing about the film is its stunning cinematography which captures the surreal scenic beauty of China effectively. Every frame in this movie is spectacular and worth watching. I recommend this film to everyone who is looking out for a beautiful and thought-provoking romantic period drama.