Plot: What’s it about?
The love that once bloomed has wilted, at least that is true for one couple. Dr. Walter Fane (Ed Norton) is a shy man with a strong devotion to his work, but he also wanted more out of life. So when he met the beautiful Kitty (Naomi Watts), a woman who wanted to experience a new life herself, the two were soon married. The marriage wasn’t built on a strong foundation, but Kitty’s drive to be a social butterfly, no matter what the cost, wore on Walter. Although she wasn’t faithful and seemed uninterested in him, Walter still had deep feelings for her. In an effort to punish her in a way, he accepted a position in a cholera infested village, far from the lifestyle Kitty reveled in. The remote village is filled with the sick and suffering, so Walter plunges headlong into helping and after a time, even Kitty starts to want to lend a hand. Can a love be rekindled once it has been snuffed out and if so, can it happen in such an unexpected place?
You don’t see many genuine romance pictures these days, instead we either have romantic comedies or melodrama masked as romance. The Painted Veil is an example of how romance should be done, a well crafted movie that relies on characters and emotion, not melodrama or cheap laughs. I’d compare this to some of the better Merchant/Ivory productions, as there is an emphasis on visuals and atmosphere. I think at times, the visuals can be so beautiful, you forget about the rest of the movie. That sounds bad, but it isn’t in this case. The story is enhanced by the visuals, so when the story needs to progress, the visuals take a backseat. As I said before, the movie has great characters, including ones played by Naomi Watts and Ed Norton. Watts is superb here and is the main attraction, but Norton is also more than up to the task. This isn’t the fast paced, forced romance we’re used to, but if you’ve been waiting for real romance, The Painted Veil is well recommended.
Video: How does it look?
The Painted Veil is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie needed a good visual effort and as usual, Warner has delivered. I did see some grain at times, as well as slight edge enhancement, but overall this looks solid. The colors have a warm, natural presence and I found contrast to be more than up to the task. The grain does cause some softness, but it isn’t too bad and detail is usually good. So not as pristine and crisp as I expected, but this is still a more than solid visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
This isn’t the movie you should pop on to test out your new speakers, but this disc does contain an effective and well mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The surrounds are used for subtle, atmospheric audio and while this isn’t a powerful experience, it all comes across in perfect form. You’re not supposed to be overwhelmed by the audio, it’s supposed to sneak up on you to create a mood and it does just that thanks to this mix. I think the musical score meshes well with the overall mood of the picture and this mix creates an open, expansive base for it to shine within. The dialogue is just as impressive though, with a crisp texture and no volume or distortion pattern problems. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.