A Quick Word

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Painted Veil (2006)

"Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people."
-The Painted Veil

An in-depth review by Choc:

Everybody says it, and everyone likes hearing the word, but what does "love" really mean?

One cynic said: "Love is just a ploy, devised by the gods to continue the species..."

Surely, not all of us share the sentiment of this hater. Most of us would rather intoxicate ourselves with the effervescent words of the great sages of love... this is why as high-school students, naive and idealistic, WE ALL loved Shakespeare...

"Let me not the marriage of true minds,admit impediments, Love is not Love.Which alters when it alteration finds..."

To some, Shakespeare was a blind optimist, but to many, he was the man, the real deal.... Preaching a kind of romantic love that does not alter when everything else does. A love that does not falter in the face of chaos and fuss...

The Painted Veil (2006) - Directed by John Curran
Walter (Ed Norton) and Kitty (Naomi Watts) do not have this kind of love.

Set in the 1920's, Walter is a bacteriologist more enamored with books and diseases than anything else in his uncomplicated life, but when he encounters the beautiful Kitty, he falls in love and proposes marriage.

Kitty, despite her obvious lack of feelings for Walter accepts the proposal for selfish reasons. She wanted to get married ahead of her younger sister and longed for freedom from her pushy parents.

The couple relocated to the British Colony of Hong Kong. Here, Walter continues his research as Kitty becomes more and more restless.Kitty then meets a dashing diplomat named Charlie Townsend and starts an affair with the married man. 

Walter found out about this and threatened to divorce the unregretful kitty and make a scandal out of it. Fearing the scandal would ruin Charlie, she begs Walter for a quiet proceeding.Walter agrees, on one condition. - That Kitty asks Charlie to divorce his wife and marry her. If Charlie refuses, Kitty will accompany Walter and (obviously as punishment) must live deep in a cholera-ravished province in mainland China.

Of course Charlie refused, and Kitty, left without a choice, must live with a husband she doesn't even care about, in the middle of an epidemic, and without the comforts of the life she used to live.

The Painted Veil, based on the classic novel by Somerset Maugham, is a one of a kind romance movie. A story where two flawed, hardly likable characters learn the true meaning of love. Love that is not borne of passion, but of forgiveness and 2nd chances.
Part of what makes this movie so good is how it makes the viewer an accomplice, we care for the characters genuinely and almost will them to be together. We become catalysts with our intentions and our hopes.

Loveless though as they may seem, they do not fight, something worse has happened to them-- they have settled into a kind of cold but respectful indifference towards one another.Never knowing what the other is thinking, never saying the things that should be heard, not because they can't or would rather not, but because it plainly doesn't matter anymore. This void, to me, is the abyss of any relationship.

Yet we have this eerie notion that somehow, for some cosmic reason, they are destined to be together. You see, Kitty and Walter do not necessarily subscribe to the Shakepearian platitudes. They are humans, and they're proud of it. Proud in the that they do not find fault in making mistakes and hurting from it, because there's no fault in being imperfect, fault lies in the inability to forgive AND the inability to learn.

This is one of those rare movies that cling to you. A compelling portrait of what it's like to feel trapped, only to realize later that you belonged all along.

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