by Xavier Toby in New Film on Sunday 25 May 2008

Set in a remote Chinese village in the 1920s during a cholera outbreak and with a revolution bubbling in the background, The Painted Veil is a wonderfully tortured love story which excels on all levels. Based on the W Somerset Maugham novel, it was a labour of love for stars Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, who also produced the film. They provide tortured and reserved performances, shooting barbs at each other that are all the more effective because of an overall brevity of dialogue. The Golden Globe winning musical score melds with the luscious setting and period costumes to create a deliciously tactile atmosphere. The well-rounded characters deal with complicated circumstances, making the love that is eventually realised more worthy, then the following tragedy all the more devastating. It is disappointing that distributors have deemed The Painted Veil, a top quality film in terms of production and story, too intellectual for the masses.