FlixChatter Review: The Painted Veil

This is one of the most touching and poignant movie I’ve seen in a very long time. The tag line says “Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people.” And what a journey it really is.

The story takes place in China in the 1920s, which tells the story of a mid-class doctor (Walter) who marries an upper-class woman (Kitty) and moves to Shanghai. It’s clear from the beginning that she marries him only to please her family. In Shanghai, she has an affair with a fellow ex pat (Liev Schreiber, Watt’s real life partner), which is quickly discovered by her husband. As an act of vengeance, Walter whisks her off to a remote village ravaged by cholera. It is here, amongst the deadly epidemic and tough circumstances, that they rediscover their relationship and find purpose both as a couple and as a person.

The movie is superbly acted and well-written. Ed Norton is in top form as always (he’s easily one of the best actors working today) and Naomi Watts gives a wonderful, nuanced portrayal as the initially unlikable Kitty, but she slowly earns my sympathy as the film wears on. Toby Jones as the couple’s cheery neighbor Waddington also gives a notable performance.

What I love the most is how the movie presents the characters as they are, neither heroic nor evil (like most people are), they are simply human. The film does shy away from being ‘preachy,’ such as when dealing with a Catholic orphanage, focusing instead on how the characters evolve as the story progresses. Although the pace is a bit slow at times, the ending has such a redeeming quality that it’s worth every second. It also boast a beautiful cinematography of the lush rural setting in China.

It’s rare to find a movie that tells a wonderful human drama without being too cutesy or overly romantic. Love is more than a bed of roses or candlelit dinner in fact, it’s best experienced when you’d least expect it.


Have you seen this film? Let me know what you think.

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8 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Painted Veil

  1. I love this film as well. I real underrated jem. Usually I hate independent films but I loved this one, probably Watts best performance to date and Norton hit it out of the park twice during this year with this and the Illusionist. Only thing negative I have to say is the ending was a little too abrupt for my tastes.

    1. Hi Answer, glad you like it. I didn’t know you hate Indie flicks… isn’t that a bit of a strong word? 🙂 I feel like I don’t watch indies as often as I would like, they’re a hit and miss sometimes but this one is indeed a gem. I love both Norton and Watts, I even think Norton’s much more nuanced here than in The Illusionist.

        1. Ok that’s fair. I find that with classic movies, too. I’m with you that ‘artsy’ doesn’t always equal enjoyable. Thanks for your comment, Answer!

  2. Amy Steele

    this is a divine film and an excellent book adaptation. really heartbreaking and Edward Norton is SUCH a brilliant actor.

    1. Hi Amy! It was fun ‘talking’ to you via Twitter earlier today. I haven’t read the book but that’s cool that the movie lived up to the book. Yes, Norton is brilliant and he’s especially wonderful and nuanced here.

  3. Pingback: The Flix List – Birthday Edition: Fave movies from each decade I’ve lived through |

  4. Pingback: Birthday List Update: Favorite Films from Each Decade I Live Through |

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