I went last night to see The Painted Veil, primarily because The Lives of Others isn't in Birmingham yet.
(As you know, I don't like to blog about what everybody else is, so if you want to read over sixty-two hundred blogposts about Norbit, go here.)
The screenwriter of Veil, Ron Nyswaner, summarizes the plot better than I could:
On the surface, the story is direct and dramatic: a man with a broken heart seeks to punish his adulterous wife. The journey of this ill-matched couple is fraught with sexual and psychological tension. The story takes a surprising twist, however, as the characters come to see themselves and each other in a new light; the psychological thriller becomes a spiritual journey.
The reason this film is a spiritual journey is that the two are married already, at a time (1925) and in a place where divorce for adultery means personal and social disaster. It simply isn't an option for the wife here, and that fact instigates the entire plot. The bitter couple simply have to put up with each other, and through the movie grow up and learn to forgive. I love how both of the characters grow over the course of this film.
It's also easy to see director John Curran's art and graphic designer background in this film. Each and every shot is damn perfect.
I could argue with the plot, though of course part of that is Somerset Maugham's fault. In order to develop the husband's character, it seems necessary to turn him into a knight, which gets a little thick for my taste.
But jesu christi, who knew that Edward Norton was such a sex god? Saw him a couple weeks ago in The Illusionist, and man, does that boy know how to cross a room with firm intent to do the nasty. It's like in Fight Club, where we find out Norton was actually Brad Pitt all along? Edward, honey, methinks that's the story of your whole career, babycakes.
Same guy. No, really.
And Norton gets major props as Producer for waiting for Naomi Watts to play the wife. No other actress I can think of could have pulled off this role. Watch the scene, and it's just a little domestic scene, that little scene where the whole movie turns around, where she sits sewing and laughs at her husband, herself, and their imperfections. THAT, my friends, is acting.
More props and a casting-against-type Achievement Award: Diana Rigg as a Mother Superior.
The end of this film, spoiler alert, scroll over for the rest of the sentence, is totally like the ending of Cold Mountain. So don't be prepared for they live happily ever after.
This kind of movie, in spite of its twists, is what I call a chick flick Happy Meal movie: it's got costumes, romance, just enough adventure to feel rescued, etc. Think Cold Mountain, the latest Pride and Prejudice, anything starring Juliette Binoche. Edward Norton is the toy inside. You know pretty much what you're going to get, and you don't care.
BTW, when Norton says to Watts: "I guess it really doesn't matter now, does it?" I got to cry. I love to cry. Blue Gal highly recommended.
And no problemo if you wanna wait for Netflix. Paying fuckin' eight dollars to watch ads for Coke and M&M's. Fuckity fuck fuckers. (The Illusionist is on DVD now, btw.)