The Painted Veil | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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The Painted Veil

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Even a nasty cholera epidemic doesn't detract from the armchair-traveling pleasures of this prettily filmed if somewhat dull melodrama, set in a remote corner of China during the 1920s. Amidst the beautiful scenery, two Britons -- a research doctor (Edward Norton) and his unhappy socialite wife (Naomi Watts) -- learn, through time and travails, to be better people. John Curran's film is the third adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, and only occasionally does it convey any of the novelist's barbs about upper-class vanities, moral decay and British imperialism. Norton and Watts are bearable, but fail to deliver any depth to these somewhat antiquated caricatures. He's even more cartoonish, but Toby Jones (Infamous' Capote) is the film's bright spot, portraying a dissolute British consular official who has, as they used to say, "gone native." (AH)

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