Kitty is the ultimate social girl: she loves going out, playing the piano and being the center of attention.
She probably wouldn’t even consider marrying Walter if she hadn’t been dying to escape her dreadful mother; who was already announcing news of engagement even when Kitty wasn’t remotely interested in Walter. So she finds herself in China, bored to death with her nerdy husband. That’s when she finds herself having an affair with and falling for the charming but married diplomat Charlie Townsend (played by Naomi’s real life partner Liev Schreiber).
When Walter finds out, he gives her two options: he can divorce her right away or she has to go to the cholera struck region of China with him. She has overestimated Charlie both as a man and a lover. He refuses to divorce his wife, just as Walter predicts.
This is the perfect punishment for an unfaithful wife: isolated in a country with only one native English speaker as neighbor. The marriage isn’t a happy one for Walter either, but he is mostly busy with his patients. As Kitty makes an effort to redeem herself and mingle with people of the church, the couple begins to see each other for they really are and the coldness is eventually replaced with love and respect.
The Painted Veil is absolutely beautiful. It is delicate and sincere. The scenery is amazing and the acting is top notch. But then again, I wasn’t expecting any less from Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. I have been an admirer of Norton’s ever since I saw him in Primal Fear. Still, it was the first time I saw him as a romantic lead in a romantic period drama and he is just excellent at this. I also like it more if the movie is produced by the leading actors so they have more say in scenes and Watts and Norton have made brilliant choices.
The movie was directed by John Curran in 2006. Based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham.
This is one of those movies that if a guy doesn’t like it, you can rightfully dismiss him as heartless. Well, kidding aside, it would be a very shallow attempt to label this one as a chick flick. It is a multi-dimensional story with multi-dimensional characters. Don’t miss out on it, regardless of your genre preference and gender.