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The Painted Veil

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Tom’s Recommended Film of the Week



The Painted Veil

1920’s China was a diverse crosscut of cultures, customs and power struggles. There were Warlords ruling areas of territory, European government and business interests occupying portions of the cities and ports and disillusioned Chinese masses stirring to take back control of their homeland. China had gone from a country ruled by Dynasty, to a modern Republic under Sun Yat-sen, to an Empire run by Yuan Shikai, before it fell into complete turmoil between the democratic advances of Chiang Kai-shek and the tilt towards communist rule.

Onto this backdrop, British novelist W. Somerset Maugham developed a story fraught with human emotion, betrayal, cowardice, vengeance and eventual maturity. The Painted Veil brings a modern age of bacteriology, medicine and high society out of Britain to Shanghai and on to the framework of a small Chinese village suffering from a severe Cholera epidemic and sets it’s main characters on a tense and troubled journey towards clarity.

Strong performances by Naomi Watts and Edward Norton raise this film a bit above the norm for a period piece, while the setting and background stories keep those interested in the world, interested in this movie.


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