The Painted Veil

Andrew Pulver

Friday April 27, 2007
The Guardian

A penetrating and subtle adaptation of Somerset Maugham's novel, which manages to successfully combine a strong-limbed narrative about marital frustration with a painstaking account of the British imperial presence in 1920s China. Both Edward Norton and Naomi Watts grapple successfully - more than most other non-Brits, it should be added - with accent and period mannerisms, while pulling off genuinely affecting performances: Norton as introverted bacteriologist Walter Fane, and Watts as the brittle socialite who accompanies him as he takes up a government post in Shanghai. Their difficult relationship provides the meat of the story, the horizons of which are considerably widened by the film-makers' determination to go deeply into the historical context as Fane forces his wife to travel up-country into the middle of a cholera epidemic as Kuomintang-inspired unrest is on the rise. One or two lines seem rather obviously designed to appeal to China's contemporary sense of self-esteem but, that aside, this is faultless, powerful film-making.


account – sprawozdanie, relacja

affecting - wzruszający

brittle - kruchy

contemporary - współczesny

genuinely - autentycznie

inspired – natchniony, zainspirowany

marital - małżeński

painstaking – staranny, drobiazgowy

pull off – dokonywać, przeprowadzać

sense of self-esteem – poczucie własnej wartości

socialite – bywalec salonów

unrest – niepokoje, zamieszki

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