The Painted Veil (2006)– In contrast to my review of Away From Her (Posted May 22), this is one movie I’m afraid I’ve to say, ‘words are mightier than the scenes’. Not that I don’t appreciate the great cinematography, the angle, lighting, and the depth of many of the frames in presenting a very appealing piece of cinema artistry, but somehow, I don’t feel for the characters and empathize with their situations as much as when I was reading the novel by William Somerset Maugham. The characters seem to have lost their complexity, the plot thins out and the resolution seems too instant. I miss some great lines in the book that seem to have been unfortunately cut out in the screenplay.
I’ve always enjoyed reading Maugham’s writing, Of Human Bondage, The Razor’s Edge, The Painted Veil as well as his short stories. However, movie making is a totally different art form and business venture from book writing and publishing. Finding the key to transform one to the other remains a unique quest for each project. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other Maugham’s work in film, such as Being Julia (2004), and quite like Up At The Villa (2000), but not as excited about The Razor’s Edge (1984), and now The Painted Veil (2006). Transforming great lines from a book into equally inspiring visual story-telling is an arduous task, and it’s something that mere beautiful cinematography cannot suffice. Nevertheless, I do applaud Edward Norton in his undertaking this difficult assignment…I’m sure shooting a movie in China poses its particular challenges. I’d love to see more Maugham writing turn into films, and wish more contemporary versions can be made…maybe a modern day Of Human Bondage?
~~ 1/2 Ripples