The Painted Veil
review by Neo


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Year: 2007

Box Office: Unknown (Let me know by email)

Director: John Curran

Producer: Unknown (Let me know by email)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Anthony Wong

Genre: Romance/History

Tagline: A beautiful piece of painting with plenty of substances…

Review by Neo: The Painted Veil is one of the most beautiful movies, Neo have ever seen. In the world of commercialism and with Hollywood making less and less money, flicks of this sort is an absolute piece of a gem. Along the lines of Quiet American, exploring the messy times of the 1920s China, The Painted Veil scores in every aspect. From touching and powerful performances from the leading characters in Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, on the mark supporting actors in the likes of HK legend Anthony Wong and colliding with a wonderful piano score, this movie is simply beautiful to watch.

It is interesting to witness through the times that the current reviewer’s grandma have been through and countryside mainland China is still very much in need of civilization. While big cities like Shanghai and Beijing makes China, the self acclaimed new superpower of the 21st century and beyond, the problem of water and varies diseases are still a prominent issue within the populated outskirts of the mainland and poverty of the situation.

Edward Norton has always been a nerdy type and here he is perfectly casted as a doctor/scientist wanting to make a difference in a foreign country. With so much spoken of the issues of China, The Painted Veil at its very core, it is actually a love story. Perhaps more fittingly, a story of change, the growth of understanding and ultimately a fulfilling yet tragic love story about a young couple going through the lessons of life.

Aussie favourite, Naomi Watts is compelling as a young adulterous wife who is constantly shaped by the context of her difference experiences of changing culture and society. Watts is a talented actresses and it is a great sight witnessing a fellow Australian balancing between art house flicks like 21 Grams and this one with commercial hits like King Kong and Hollywood re-make of The Ring series. Possessing a pretty and sexy appearance and matching it up with some quality acting chops, Watts have a bright future ahead.

Then again, for followers of HK cinema like Neo, there is the ever dependable Anthony Wong. While it is true that Wong’s acting is limited by his English, his presence alone lifts up the film and made his paper thin role as a head guard much more interesting than he should be. Perhaps, Wong is in line for more Hollywood appearances in the future, but this is certainly not a bad way to launch an overseas career.

It must be credited to the director John Curran for making the most of China’s best lake sequence and imagery. Not only will this be a great promotion for the upcoming Beijing Olympics, but showing the beauty of China, despite the constant clichés of seeing images of the industrial progression and pollution landscape of places like Shanghai, Canton or Beijing. Some scenes like when the boat is slowly paddled through the beautiful lake, reminds the audience of a little movie called Hero, where it contained the ballet-like battle of the minds between Jet Li and Tony Leung Chiu Wai.

All in all, The Painted Veil is certainly a beautiful movie to look at and what makes it better than other similar clones is that it never bores. This is despite its 2 hours running time and the branding of being an independent flick. The Painted Veil scores on nearly all levels and comes extremely highly recommended from the current reviewer who didn’t allow his eyes to close, despite just sleeping 4 hours last night. It is a movie that follows a novel and somehow is also a remake of a 1934 movie of the same name, but as it turns out The Painted Veil is very much a big success. Adding in Anthony Wong and the pretty faced looks of Naomi Watts, The Painted Veil is like a beautiful piece of painting and the good news is that Neo loves it as he is finishing off this review within the next couple of seconds… (Neo 2008)

I rate it 10/10

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