Painted Veil, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +4

Content: +2

Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Live Schreiber, Toby Jones. Written by Ron Nyswaner. Directed by John Curran.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on the classic novel by W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil is a tale of revenge that becomes a love story. Set in the 1920s, it tells of a young English couple: Walter, a middle-class doctor, and Kitty, an upper-class woman, who get married for the wrong reasons and relocate to Shanghai, where she falls in love with someone else. When he uncovers her infidelity the husband accepts a job in a remote village ravaged by a deadly epidemic and forces her to go along. It is an act of vengeance, as she is subjected to danger, discomfort and the threat of cholera. Slowly, her shallow nature and his dark heart are both transformed as they attempt to help others. Their discovery of the others qualities leads to a loving regard.

PREVIEW REVIEW: This was one of the best film-going experiences Ive had this past year. Perhaps that is due to its containing the greatest special effect ever conceived the written word. Novelist Somerset Maugham was a storyteller of the highest magnitude and movie writer Ron Nyswaner (Swing Shift, Philadelphia, Mrs. Soffel) understands, appreciates and honors that fact. His screenplay (updated just a touch in order to appeal to politically correct sensibilities) almost subliminally composes an effective balance of world-weary cynicism with romantic hope. Director John Curran (We Dont Live Here Anymore, Praises) skillfully brings out the human inner emotions that magically develop between a married couple. Its a love story. There just arent that many around, these days.

The one major disappointing for me has to do with the portrayal of the leads as un-churched and un-accepting of Christian theology. Even the head nun at the hospital (sensitively played by the great Avenger herself, Diana Rigg) reflects on her disintegrating relationship to God. It is always a letdown when a character study depicts people developing in every area but a spiritual one. The ignoring of the spiritual nature of mankind always seems shallow, especially when a storyline has a theme that acknowledges the sanctity of life. But I was able to put my disappointment aside and focus on the marital relationship that developed between the lead couple. Upon discovery of his wifes adultery, the man, full of rage, tries to become indifferent. The rage eats away at his soul, but it is indifference that threatens the relationship. Fortunately for the protagonists, they begin to realize the significance of their life mate and learn to cherish one another. Oh, if that were so for everyone who says I do.

Heres a good DVD to go along with The Painted Veil: Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Ingrid Bergman stars in this true story of a missionary who leads a group of children on a perilous journey in pre-WW2 China. It contains the most moving conversion Ive seen in the movies, as we witness change in a mans life due to this courageous womans example. It reminds viewers that our openness to Christs will does affect others.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Independent

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: I caught none

Obscene Language: I caught only one minor expletive (damn).

Profanity: None

Violence: Angry with his adulterous wife, the husband threatens to strangle her; an angry Chinese mob chases the woman; gunshots are fired.

Sex: An adulterous relationship is shown, with a sexual situation brief backside nudity, but neither the nudity nor the sexual act becomes overly graphic. Nor is it meant to be exploitive. The illicit affair is featured in order to lead to forgiveness and healing.

Nudity: Brief backside nudity as a man gets out of bed.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: A friend of the couple lives out of wedlock with a young Chinese girl.

Drugs: Occasional drinking.

Other: We see villagers devastated by cholera, including dying people in pain and dead bodies along the roadside; themes of vengeance and forgiveness are incorporated.

Running Time: 125 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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