Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Painted Veil
Above: I nearly went to see The Painted Veil when it was showing in Leicester Square. But I was too tired, and thought I would go another day, and then never got round to it. I've regretted this ever since as it is a film that needs to be seen as projected film and on a large screen.
One of the films I saw over the Christmas holiday was The Painted Veil, directed by John Curran and starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. I think it was on Channel 4. It's a film I've long wanted to see (it was made in 2006).
Set in China in 1925, the film shows an imploding society on the edge of imperial annexation - the characters are carried in palanquins; pulled in rickshaws; experience resentful defiance by the humiliated Chinese (although ultimately it was imperial Japan that dominated, not the western powers).
The use of colour, and the photography of the beautiful and unusual (to me) landscapes, is excellent. The piano music stayed in the mind hours after the film finished. The subtleties and ironies of Somerset Maugham's plot were engrossing.
Edward Norton was exactly right for the lead part, especially the slight weakness he has around the mouth, which added so much to his characterisation. He is a compelling actor. I had to look up his biography to check he was not British, so realistic was his accent.