The Painted Veil
In 1925 China, a British doctor working in Shanghai (Edward Norton) and his adulterous wife (Naomi Watts) travel deep into the revolution-torn interior to help in a cholera epidemic. The dual crises, medical and political, force them to view their marriage with new eyes, and truly to know one another for the first time. Adapting W. Somerset Maugham’s novel (first filmed in 1934 as a vehicle for Greta Garbo), writer Ron Nyswaner and director John Curran take their deliberate time, gradually revealing subtle depths of character in a story that could easily sink to soap opera or melodrama. Performances are superbly textured (including Liev Schreiber as Watts’ caddish lover and Toby Jones as a minor British colonial official), and for that matter, so is Stuart Dryburgh’s delicately exotic cinematography.