愛在遙遠的附近 - The Painted Veil

Written by Academy Award nominee, Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia), and based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, THE PAINTED VEIL follows a bacteriologist Walter and his adulterous wife Kitty who move to a remote Asian village to fight a cholera outbreak. Away from her luxurious past life, Kitty has a spiritual awakening and learns to appreciate and love her husband…

The story is set in 1925. Kitty (NAOMI WATTS) is a spoiled young woman living in London. Facing the social stigma of her younger sister getting engaged first, Kitty quickly marries one of her suitors, Walter (EDWARD NORTON), a boring bacteriologist.

The couple moves to Shanghai where Walter researches ways to control epidemics in Asia. Although Walter is madly in love with Kitty, he finds that the pair has little in common and discovers that Kitty has an adulterous affair with a married diplomat, Charles (LIEV SCHREIBER - Naomi's real-life boyfriend). In order to teach his wife a lesson, he volunteers to work in a remote Chinese village where the plague is raging and local warlords are waging battles. Walter threatens Kitty to divorce her stating her infidelity if she does not accompany him to the area. She accepts the offer in order not to spoil her reputation and she feels disappointed when she knows that Charles will not ask for a divorce from his wife.

Living in the village where more and more people die of cholera, Kitty begins to appreciate his husband who gives no regard to his own life for the good of others. She also starts working in an orphanage to help the unfortunate. The hazardous journey indeed brings Walter and Kitty closer. Unfortunately fate intervenes…

Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people… The Painted Veil, which is like an epic poem whispering the meaning of love and meditating on reflection and redemption, deeply touches my heart.

According to a psychologist Hegel, it is likely for self-reflection to take place when one goes out from the immediacy and returns. Kitty is born and raised in a rich English family. She knows more about herself when she moves to a cholera-ridden village where most people cannot speak English. What's more, the China's war-torn interior is much different from London. Being miles from civilization or further temptation, she begins to reflect on her role and gains a better understanding of her husband. When she goes back to London, she is already a mature grown-up who is conscious of what she has been looking for.

The magnificent Quangxi setting (in southern China) is not only breathtaking, but also symbolic. Some hills are farther than the others and their outlines are sometimes blurred by mist. It is just like the distance between Walter and Kitty, who are physically close, but spiritually apart. Through reflection, understanding can be enhanced. Through communication, distance can be shortened. Besides, the dimly-lit room where dead silence often sets in, the contrast between light and shadow and the characters in light-colored costume creates elegance, romance, tension and simplicity. The director successfully provides the audiences with the basics of love. The captivating cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh immeasurably enhances the story and the scenery will surely linger in your mind when you leave the theatre.

The movie has won several awards, one of which is the Golden Globe Best Original Score Award featuring a renowned pianist Lang Lang whose mesmerizing music was in tune with the story told. The haunting song played at the end brings back sweet and bitter snippets of Walter and Kitty’s shared life, leaving me speechless.

The charismatic lead performances and the strong supporting cast deserve our applause. Both Edward Norton and Naomi Watts deliver finely nuanced and captivating performances which are close to flawless. There are several zoom shots onto a particular character's face or eyes and you will find that their transfixing expressions can speak.

Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people, yet the distance can be shortened. Reflection is the key. At the end of the movie, Walter and Kitty are physically distant, but spiritually united. That's LOVE! Despite the old-fashioned plot, The Painted Veil is a visually poetic, intelligently adapted, perfectly cast and entertaining romance. This is one of the best epic love stories I have seen in recent years. I give this haunting movie 4 stars out of 5.

Special thanks to the Intercontinental Film Distributors (HK) Ltd.


影畫絮語 - 英女皇 The Queen

影畫絮語節目內容 (www.mov-reviews.com): 現年61歲的海倫美蘭憑(英女皇贏得奧斯卡金像獎最佳女主角,演技入木三分。

After producing Mrs Henderson Presents starring a shining actress, Judi Dench, the Director Stephen Frears brings audiences The Queen starring another dazzling actress, Helen Mirren.

The Queen is a subtle, witty and revealing protrait of the Queen addressing herself to protecting her British Royal Family after the death of Pricess Diana and the relationship between British Prime Minister Tony Blair thinking in a modern way and the Queen upholding traditional principles of her British Monarchy.

Every coin, indeed, has two sides... While the Queen looks very tough in front of others, she cries when she is alone. While she is the Queen, she is also someone's grandmother and an ordinary 70-year-old woman wearing a night gown in the house. Theoretically, she is the head of the country, but in practice, she exercises very little political executive power. While some people criticize her for being cold-blooded and showing ruthless disregard for her people's feelings, some people still look up to this charismatic and majestic monarch who has ruled the United Kindom since 1952. While Tony Blair urges her to comply with the public's wish, he sympathizes with and defends this old woman bullied by the public. While the Queen has to listen to Tony's advice, she strives to uphold the majesty of the British Royal Family. Indeed, the loss of citizens' support and the increasing power of Tony Blair put this old woman in a vulnerable position. Different points of view on the issue are fairly and comprehensively looked at.

The professional and charismatic cast impresses me a lot! Do you remember Helen Mirren's uplifting performance in Calendar Girls? This time, her acting is so overwhelming that I feel much pity for the Queen. Helen Mirren resembles HM Queen Elizabeth II, while Michael Sheen really looks like Tony Blair. Besides, the Queen's mother and Mr. Blair's wife move me to laughter. I simply had a gudging affection for all these characters when I left the theatre.

Those real news reports inserted from time to time go well with the drama, making the movie look realistic. Besides, the director is skilled at crafting humor. Here are some amusing quotes from the movie!

  • Prince Philip: Sleeping in the streets & pulling out their hair for someone they never knew. And they think we're mad!

  • Prince Philip: [to his wife] Move over, Cabbage.
  • Prince Philip: Elton John wishes to sing at the funeral. Should be a first for Westminster Abbey.

  • HM Queen Elizabeth II: [to her husband] Have you heard from the Spencers on what they wish to do with the funeral? HM The Queen Mother: Oh no, no one tells me anything.
  • HM The Queen Mother: Charles, dear, use the royal flight. They keep one plane on permanent stand-by, in case I should kick the bucket.

Tradition prepared her. Change will define her. I love the Queen as well as Queen's English (RP). Owing to the superb acting, subtle humor and an insight into the incident without bias, I give this documentary-like drama 4 stars out of 5. Don't miss it!

Special thanks to the Golden Scene Co. Ltd.