The always surprising Watts creates a woman at once contemporary and retro. And Norton, as a producer as well as star, concedes enough space for Schreiber and the effortlessly fascinating Jones to earn their own spotlights.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
The third film iteration of The Painted Veil turns W. Somerset Maugham's distaff bildungsroman into a fine romance.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
Combine a strong-limbed narrative about marital frustration with a painstaking account of the British imperial presence in 1920s China.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
Norton and Watts are top-notch, as are Schreiber and Toby Jones.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
Even amid an atmosphere of human rot, it's too elegant for its own good, a pleasing but pale Merchant-Ivory exercise that reverently strives for a kind of simple redemptive decency that Maugham found less triumphant than this movie does.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
The Painted Veil lifts Maugham's story clear of its prissy, attenuated spirituality, and into genuine passion.
Ella Taylor - Village Voice
The Painted Veil may begin too slowly, but it also ends too soon.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
In The Painted Veil, terrific actors give glum performances.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
Its strength lies in its patience -- and its slow, melting sorrow that hints at atonement.
Amy Biancolli - Houston Chronicle
The filmmakers are mindful of the challenges inherent in filming Maugham's novel. But The Painted Veil never fully finesses the novel's 1920s attitudes toward its ethnic others.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
The movie makes for a good old-fashioned wide-screen wallow.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
[Director] Curran has crafted a film that accomplishes so much. It not only draws us into this personal drama between his two principal actors, but also sets it all against a vibrant background of an ancient civilization struggling to become modern.
Bill Zwecker - Chicago Sun-Times
The acting is quite splendid, especially in the vicinity of the quite splendid Watts.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Norton and Schreiber seem too American to be English colonials, but Watts navigates a challenging transformation (in a role first played by Greta Garbo in 1934), and there are sturdy performances by Anthony Wong, Toby Jones, and Diana Rigg.
Andrea Gronvall - Chicago Reader
The Painted Veil is rich with history and heartbreak. It's stirring stuff.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
Stunning locations, a story with strong emotional, physical and spiritual conflicts, and a first-rate cast.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
The film manages to be a lush period piece, a love story, an examination of culture clash and a slow revelation of character emerging from stunted emotion.
Tom Long - Detroit News
All this comes from a novel by Somerset Maugham, although the movie leaves out most of the complexities of the book to focus on the single-minded venom of the marriage.
Richard Nilsen - Arizona Republic
The Painted Veil tells a mesmerizing story while honoring all of the classic traditions of superior filmmaking -- a magnificent accomplishment that will haunt you long after it ends.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
Intelligent scripting, solid thesping and eye-catching location shooting aren't enough to make a compelling modern film of The Painted Veil
Todd McCarthy - Variety
Despite a fierce lead performance by Naomi Watts, The Painted Veil is a quaintly bloodless, picture-postcard adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's 1925 China-set novel -- more Merchant Ivory than David Lean.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
The Painted Veil recalls an earlier era of film direction, when movies moved rather than manipulated and craft superseded special effects.
Susan Walker - Toronto Star
The Painted Veil never really transcends a predictable, historical model of sacrifice and personal growth, and there's not enough of the latter.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
Curran, his actors and screenwriter Ron Nyswaner have made an old-fashioned melodramatic epic that, as steeped as it is in the language and tradition of old movies, is never less than thrummingly alive.
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
The movie achieves a rare balance for an historical fiction: making use of the backdrop without allowing it to overwhelm the characters and their story.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
The Painted Veil sets a few fine actors to work with one of W. Somerset Maugham's 1920s tales of Occidentals confronting the Far East and their own tangled emotional lives.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
A pet project of Watts and Norton for years, the two actors clearly have great affinity for the story and capture authentic chemistry of young marrieds at odds, who develop respect -- if not necessarily love -- for each other.
David Germain - Associated Press
The Painted Veil has the power and intimacy of a timeless love story. By all means, let it sweep you away.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
It's impeccable, but leaves you cold.
Carina Chocano - Los Angeles Times
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
Bob Mondello - NPR.org
This stab at grand romance fails to satisfy.
Heather Huntington - ReelzChannel.com
Norton's effect and Watts' able portrayal are not enough to move the misogyny of the narrative.
Matthew Sorrento - Film Threat
Contents itself with making the Maugham work less prissy.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
It's a wallow and I confess to wholeheartedly enjoying the plunge.
Sandra Hall - Sydney Morning Herald
Concealed passions are revealed as life takes unexpected turns and what initially seems like an act of vengeance becomes the making of the central characters
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
The Painted Veil has a real pulse. It sweeps you up in the characters' journey from the beginning, and keeps you riveted from moment to moment.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
...a finely crafted product that can hardly fail to touch one's heart.
John J. Puccio - DVDTown.com
John J. Puccio - Movie Metropolis
Philip French - Observer [UK]
click for review
Joseph Proimakis - Movies for the Masses
John Curran controls the redemptive spirit of Maugham's book with merciful restraint, and gets excellent performances all round.
Anthony Quinn - Independent
Stunning scenery and superior thesping result in a period romance that combines the intimate with the epic.
Neil Smith - Total Film
A great pleasure!
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
The problem isn't that it's painful to endure, but that it's a rather easier watch than it should be.
Tim Robey - Daily Telegraph
If the cholera doesna(TM)t get you, the dialogue will.
James Christopher - Times [UK]
Wonderful scenery, great performances and a superb story.
Dean Essner - Daily Mirror [UK]
An exquisitely drawn character piece.
Dean Essner - Film4
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Overall this is a satisfyingly slow-burning romance, beautifully scored and acted.
Stella Papamichael - BBC
The production values are characteristically sumptuous, William Daniels' photography is lustrous, and Boleslawski directs with suitable flair.
Dean Essner - Time Out
Handsomely crafted, with meticulous performances, yet it plays out drily and in monotone.
Angie Errigo - Empire Magazine
Unlike any love story I've seen before.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
The Painted Veil is the type of old-fashioned period drama with rich, well defined characters that usually can't find backing in today's Hollywood.
Lori Hoffman - Atlantic City Weekly
Director John Curran ("We Don't Live Here Anymore") captures the profound beauty of China's lush countryside where his characters discover the true nature of their relationship.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
John Curran has been inspired, in an epic way, to capture the extremes of romantic feeling in his adaptation.
Michelle Orange - Reeler
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
A '20s period piece about tainted love set against a cholera epidemic in a remote Chinese village may sound about as romantic as Valentine's Day at T.G.I. Fridays spent over mozzarella sticks and separate checks, but we promise the pay-off is much better.
Mike Ward - Richmond.com
David Fear - Time Out New York
...a stuffed and mounted story of tortured romance that seems long out of date.
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
An easy movie to admire but a difficult one to embrace.
Sean O'Connell - Charlotte Weekly
A movie for sophisticated adults...a sensitively nuanced story (with) exceptional performances by Norton and the gorgeous Watts with captivating cinematography and locale.
Tony Medley - tonymedley.com
The film treats the conventions of 1925 with respect, without condescension or superiority (and, blessedly, without post-modern smugness).
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Watts and Norton are extraordinary actors, and in fine form here, but they never click together...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Dean Essner - Film Threat
An intelligently crafted movie of dull tastefulness that brings nothing to the story that wasn't more artfully evoked in the novel.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Why, ultimately, leave 1920s England to see a tragic romance between two Brits? Part this veil, and the atmosphere dissolves into a smokescreen, the backdrop revealed as a chasm between cultures.
Brian Gibson - Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Veil blends politics and romance only a bit less clumsily than The White Countess, another movie about pre-war China that came to grief.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
Feels like a Masterpiece Theatre production -- solid enough, but at the same time oddly generic.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
For filmgoers who long for the days when adventurous filmmakers such as David Lean placed fascinating, flawed characters in sweeping, historic settings, The Painted Veil is a most welcome motion picture.
Jack Garner - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Both sumptuous and satisfying.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
The characters are extraordinarily well-drawn, and Watts and Norton both do fine, subtle work.
J.B. Mitchell - Orlando Weekly
This tale of strangers in a strange land has been fashioned as a poignant love story, with its buried passions forcefully breaking the surface as the film rounds the bend toward its satisfying conclusion.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
The marital problems played out by Naomi Watts and Edward Norton are of trivial concern when set within a cholera epidemic in China.
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Sweeping vistas, period-piece sets, impeccable literary source, a little stolid at times, but ultimately quite impressive.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Dean Essner - Baltimore Sun
Superb performances and elegant production values make it profoundly involving.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Exquisitely filmed and finely acted.
Connie Ogle - Miami Herald
Neither Walter nor Kitty is a saint, and neither becomes one. But we see a love of virtue take root in this relationship as Kitty stumbles toward a kind of redemption.
Lisa Ann Cockrel - Christianity Today
Performances are superbly textured...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Many story elements are predictable, and they rely on superior acting to make up for other shortcomings.
Michele Kenner - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Painted Veil uses its narrative limits to make its political case, that privilege breeds ignorance.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
A case of filmmakers being too enamored of classic source material to pump enough blood to bring a film version to life.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
This adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham novel contains more anger and sexuality -- altogether more passion -- than other beautifully appointed period films of its class.
Carla Meyer - Sacramento Bee
Redemption comes far too late in The Painted Veil, an aloof and disappointing adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's 1920s novel that features one of the more unlikable, self-involved main characters in recent memory.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
The movie is not grim, even as it endangers a wise nun and her gaggle of orphans in its most unfortunate melodramatic moments. Rather, it suggests the possibility of mutual healing, of people working together in love.
Marrit Ingman - Austin Chronicle
A lovely trifle not unlike other well-done bits of instantly-forgotten prestige.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
One of the year end's best films - great story, superb acting and beautiful to look at.
Diana Saenger - ReviewExpress.com
Slow and sublime.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
A rich and resounding picture of love lost and regained ... 2006's most romantic movie.
Thomas Delapa - Boulder Weekly
Sturdy adult fare that works lush period locations and the subtle gifts of its talented actors to its advantage.
Jeanne Aufmuth - Palo Alto Weekly
Norton and Watts know exactly how to communicate all their characters' unspoken desires, fears and frustrations. ...an absorbing study of love in all its colors, from passion to rage and from heartache to ecstacy.
James Sanford - Kalamazoo Gazette
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The combination of a good story, fine acting and location shooting make this worth seeing.
Jean Lowerison - San Diego Metropolitan
Jonathan W. Hickman - Entertainment Insiders
Finds just the right balance between the familiar and the surprising to become one of the season's best entertainments.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Provocative and highly emotional. Watts and Norton are sensational.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
Watts' quietly intense performance is the best thing about Veil.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
A thoughtful and beautifully mounted story for grown-ups, The Painted Veil brings the quiet pleasures of a fine novel, showing us that the world's complicated geography is no match for the terrain of the human heart.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
Solid as this Painted Veil is, there's also a predictability to its Puritanism. To succumb to it, you have to really be in the mood to watch a good man teach a foolish woman a lesson.
Mary F. Pols - Contra Costa Times
A handsome but suffocating adaptation of a W. Somerset Maugham novel.
Shawn Levy - Oregonian
There's something missing at the heart of the film, some spark, and it may be nothing more than a lack of chemistry between Norton and Watts.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
The Painted Veil doesn't have quite the gripping pressure that Maugham built in his prose with such sober, masterly confidence, but it is strong work, honestly done.
David Elliott - San Diego Union-Tribune
The story is told with integrity, and its sense of 1920s colonial China makes for an absorbing, cultural-political backdrop.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
This version has that element the previous films lacked: a true understanding of Maugham's belief that true love and purpose are inseparable.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
Watts and Norton ... emphasize the loaded gestures and veiled asides that govern relationships in real life, as opposed to the melodramatic tirades that dominate the movies.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
The film comes together as a quirky but touching love story and a screen-filling spectacle that's balanced with both the hard-edge and exotic spiritual dimension W. Somerset Maugham would have admired.
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The Painted Veil does what a romantic drama needs to do. It testifies to love as the great educator.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
There is not an actor in The Painted Veil who is anything less than supremely talented. But despite having a razor-sharp script from which to work, [director John] Curran can't quite get a single character to come fully alive.
Phoebe Flowers - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The Painted Veil is like one of those typical Oscar bait type of films that haven't been Oscar bait in about 10 years.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
It's a grim, demanding movie, but the acting is marvelous and the scenery breathtaking. If you're looking for a film to match the post-holiday blues, here it is. And it's very good.
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A delicate work of smothered passion that taps into the agony of a loveless marriage.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
The film's visual splendor is about more than scenery as Dryburgh attains first character definition, then emotional wallop with...closeups of Walter's bare foot.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
The only good reason to watch the first half of The Painted Veil is to prepare for the second half, in which a pair of note-perfect performers are finally given more than one note to play.
Alex Markerson - E! Online
The film, alas, never scales their acting heights, plodding along in a staid fashion and tamping down the strong emotions that reside below its surface. This should have been a much more powerful movie.
Shlomo Schwartzberg - Boxoffice Magazine
Ella Taylor - L.A. Weekly
If you like classy costume dramas filled with British accents, or have to write a paper on Maugham, this might be worth the price of a ticket.
Eric Lurio - Greenwich Village Gazette
Like a long-term relationship, The Painted Veil is well-intentioned and not particularly sexy, but understands duties of forgiveness, sacrifice, and commitment.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
This time director John Curran digs just a little deeper and finds something remarkably human in the material.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Feels like it's going through the motions, applying period gloss to a story that needs to be more tactile.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
Locates deep and subtle truths about the manner in which infidelity and misunderstandings can breed self-disgust in the (more) aggrieved party.
Brent Simon - FilmStew.com
Maugham ... still translates to the screen perfectly.... Watts, Norton, and Toby Jones are fully convincing.
Andy Klein - Los Angeles CityBeat
It's an actor's love fest, with Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, and Liev Schreiber snatching every last drop of ennui and tight-fisted emotion they can.
Brian Orndorf - eFilmCritic.com
Prepare to be magically transported to another world by this alluring, magnificent melodrama that unfolds in pre-revolutionary China.
Susan Granger - www.susangranger.com
A thoroughly grown-up movie that compellingly thinks its way through the toughest matters of the heart.
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
If The Painted Veil ultimately lacks some of the novelty and ambition of the year's best pictures, it still ranks as one of 2006's quiet gems.
Ethan Alter - Premiere Magazine
Naomi Watts is far too good for most of her roles, sitting in an ape's paw or watching spectral videotapes. The Painted Veil is a welcome exception.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Coco Forsythe - Future Movies UK
The third and best cinematic adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's 1925 novel, The Painted Veil is a beautifully mounted and incisively acted period piece, bristling with intelligence and caustic wit.
Timothy Knight - Reel.com
This is one of those epic love stories that the Movie Chicks adore, but it's also a very good little movie.
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
Dave White - Movies.com
A beautiful and very believable story, set in China in the 1920s, about the personal transformation of a married couple.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
A major motion picture achievement,a magnificent adaptationthat achieves near perfection on the screen.
Pete Hammond - Maxim
It's lacking all subtlety.
Bryant Frazer - Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Largely Masterpiece Theatre moviemaking, but of a very high order...an elegantly appointed, intelligently played picture that does Maugham's period piece proud.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
[The film] rubs off a few of the barbed edges from W. Somerset Maugham's 1925 novel about love and infidelity in a time of cholera, but no matter: the centerpiece is Naomi Watts' outstanding portrayal of an adulteress redeemed.
Ken Fox - TV Guide's Movie Guide
It's really the Norton-Watts show, and they make The Painted Veil resonate with love and regret.
John Anderson - Newsday
Movies don't elicit sighs from me often, but for The Painted Veil I sigh.
Jeffrey Chen - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A soaring, tragic tale of transcendence and forgiveness that resonates long after the credits roll.
Erica Abeel - Film Journal International
A period piece with an edge, combining lush photography with an engaging script, strong acting and on-screen chemistry between Norton and Watts.
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
Can a diseased village cure a sterile marriage?
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
There's room for old-fashioned literary cinema, but Curran's third version of Maugham's morality tale (done with Garbo in 1934 and Eleanor Parker in 1957) doesn't illuminate the nuanced journey taken by the ill-matched couple.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
an apt visitation to the curious romances of the old days.
Chris Cabin - Filmcritic.com
[The] finest moments are the small, barely perceptible pinpricks of human cruelty...especially those induced by race, gender, and class.
Gabriel Shanks - Modern Fabulousity
Stands creatively with the best from Merchant/Ivory Productions.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
Lack[s] an essential, gripping spark of self-destructiveness and ardor.
Nick Schager - Lessons of Darkness
The Painted Veil is more or less from the school of motion picture that Pauline Kael used to say "reeks of quality."
Jason Clark - Slant Magazine