The Painted Veil (2006)

(This is a post from wikipedia.org. To see more about the film please click here)

 

The Painted Veil is a 2006 drama film directed by John Curran. The screenplay by Ron Nyswaner is based on the 1925 novel of the same title by W. Somerset Maugham. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Toby Jones, Anthony Wong Chau Sang and Liev Schreiber appear in the leading roles.

This is the third screen adaption of the Maugham book, following a 1934 film starring Herbert Marshall and Greta Garbo and a 1957 version called The Seventh Sin with Bill Travers and Eleanor Parker.

 

THE PLOT

Shortly after meeting earnest, socially awkward bacteriologist Walter Fane at a party, vivacious, vain, and vacuous London socialite Kitty Garstin enters into a loveless marriage with him at the urging of her domineering mother. Following a honeymoon in Venice, the couple go to Shanghai, where the doctor is stationed in a government lab studying infectious diseases.

Kitty meets Charles Townsend, a married British vice consul, and the two engage in a clandestine affair. When Walter discovers his wife’s infidelity, he seeks to punish her by threatening to divorce her on the grounds of adultery if she doesn’t accompany him to a small village in a remote area of China, where he has volunteered to treat victims of an unchecked cholera epidemic sweeping through the area. Kitty begs to be allowed to divorce him quietly and he agrees, provided Townsend will leave his wife Dorothy and marry her. When she proposes this possibility to her lover, he declines to accept, and she is compelled to travel to the mountainous inland region with her husband.

They embark upon an arduous, two-week-long overland journey that would be considerably faster and much easier if they traveled by river, but Walter is determined to make Kitty as unhappily uncomfortable as possible. Upon their arrival in Mei-tan-fu, she is distressed to discover they will be living in near squalor, far removed from everyone except their cheerful neighbor Waddington, a British deputy commissioner living with a young Chinese woman in relative opulence.

Walter and Kitty barely speak to each other and, except for a cook and a Chinese soldier assigned to guard her, she is alone for long hours. After visiting an orphanage run by a group of French nuns, Kitty volunteers her services, and she is assigned to work in the music room. She is surprised to learn from the Mother Superior that her husband loves children, especially babies, and in this setting she begins to see him in a new light as she learns what a selfless and caring person he can be. When he sees her with the children, he in turn realizes she is not the shallow, selfish person he thought her to be.

As Walter’s anger and Kitty’s unhappiness subside, their marriage begins to blossom. She soon learns she is pregnant, but is unsure who the father is. Walter – in love with Kitty again – assures her it doesn’t matter.

Just as the local cholera problem is coming under control, ailing refugees from elsewhere pour into the area, forcing Walter to set up a camp outside town. He contracts the disease and Kitty nurses him, but he dies, devastating her.

Five years later, while shopping with her young son Walter in London, Kitty meets Townsend by chance on the street. He suggests the two get together and asks young Walter his age, realising from the reply that he could be Walter’s father. Kitty, however, rejects his overtures and walks away. When her son asks who Townsend is, she replies “No one important”.

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One thought on “The Painted Veil (2006)

  1. Pingback: No Happy Endings « Through My Window…

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