Monday, September 15, 2008

Film Review: The Painted Veil

Our resident film buff Renee A is chuffed with pretty landscapes and rebuffed by a truckload of cliches in The Painted Veil:

Well, first of all, let’s look at the things I liked about The Painted Veil:

1) It was pretty to look at – lots of sweeping shots of rural China at sunrise, lovely period costumes and attractive actors.
2) It had a fairly decent plot: British doctor travels to China to help fight against a cholera outbreak in a small Chinese village. Doctor brings along spoilt brat unfaithful wife who doesn’t love him and the two of them try to make the best of things.
3) It has Edward Norton in it.

And the things I didn’t like:
1). The lead characters were distinctly unlikeable and unsympathetic for most of the film.
2). Both lead actors stepped onto the set of this film and promptly forgot how to act. Naomi Watts and Edward Norton have done some very good things in their careers, but for some unfathomable reason they decided the best they could do for this movie was to act as though it was amateur play night at the local theatre.
3) From about halfway through the film, the plot begins to feel as though it’s a join the dots sort of affair. You can almost feel them ticking off the boxes as they go along. “Right, take spoilt brat wife along. Check. Find a convenient place for her to begin to redeem herself. Check. Have her fall in love with her husband. Check. Get them drunk at a convenient time after they’ve begun to sort out their issues and get them to have passionate sex. Check. Have something happen to one of them soon after this discovery of love that allows for maximum drama and tragedy. Check.”
4) The very last scene is unnecessary and a bit twee. It assumes the audience are incapable of individual thought and the ability to use their own imaginations. For a film that had some lovely subtle moments throughout, the complete lack of subtlety in the last five minutes makes you feel as though you’re being smacked in the head by a panicking director who doesn’t trust in the intelligence of his audience.

Despite my issues with it, I actually enjoyed watching this film. Well, most of it anyway. The first half of it is good. It’s all dreamy and pretty and sad. But slowly, as the film continued, I began to get the distinct impression I’d somehow ended up on the Hallmark Channel and I was about to see an ad for Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. Which is disappointing, because it had the potential to be so much better.

Two out of five pretty Chinese sunsets.

By the way, despite having not bothered to write a review for it, I highly recommend Juno. It rocks.

Ed's note: please write one dear wench, I missed it at the flicks and my local video store smells like wee, so I haven't bothered to rent it out yet, but I feel I need to.....

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