Somerset Maugham might have inspired more movie adaptations than any other author, but not because his perversely realistic view of human behavior follows Hollywood formula. In his 1925 novel The Painted Veil, here adapted by John Curran (We Don’t Live Here Anymore), vapid socialite Kitty Garstin (Naomi Watts) marries charmless epidemiologist Walter Fane (Edward Norton) out of desperation. He takes her to his post in Shanghai, where she promptly cheats on him. Mortified, he takes her into the midst of a cholera epidemic deep in China, where he devotes himself to finding a cure. Kitty, meanwhile, is inspired by the French nuns who are tending the sick. Will Kitty find redemption and reconciliation? Enter screenwriter Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) with bliss montages. Although it includes the politics neglected by Maugham, and fine acting by Watts in particular, this is just another white love story before the painted veil of the Third World.
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The Painted Veil's Web site:http://wip.warnerbros.com/paintedveil/