The Painted Veil
Based on the classic novel by Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil is a love story set in the 1920s that tells the tale of a young English couple, Walter, a middle class doctor and Kitty, an upper-class woman, who get married for the wrong reasons and relocate to Shanghai, where she falls in love with someone else. When he uncovers her infidelity, in an act of vengeance, he accepts a job in a remote village in China ravaged by a deadly epidemic, and takes her along. Their journey brings meaning to their relationship and gives them purpose in one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth.
This is a very pretty film that deals with a messy relationship and not so pretty disease. The photography, music and costumes all harken back to a more civil time. The language is proper as would be expected during that age (the 1920s). It is almost as if they are wearing a mask or “a painted veil.” Underneath is a real person with flaws and vulnerabilities.
The issue of adultery and various sexual situations precludes this film from being classified as family-friendly. Without giving too much away, I must say that there is redemption in the story that I found satisfactory. The other major issue for families to consider is the theme of disease and death. The doctor is sent to this remote village in China to help them with a Cholera epidemic. The viewer is subjected to many images of people in the throws of the disease and many ravaged dead bodies. As difficult as this is to watch, I enjoyed seeing the kindness of those sent there to help. I also have a new found appreciation for this country’s clean water supply.
Although well-acted and well-made, this film is not easy to watch and is not family-friendly.