THE PAINTED VEIL (suddenly, Edward Norton)
I’m not usually slow on the uptake. In fact, I have always felt I was quite perceptive to the people around me. So imagine my surprise at seeing Edward Norton sweep in and redirect my entire attention from the one actor who is a mainstay on my radar.
When I first heard of The Painted Veil, I remember a momentary interest in the story until the realization that Liev Schreiber was a supporting player, after which I anxiously anticipated the opportunity to see the film. The film did not disappoint in any way, but as I eject the disc I am overwhelmingly aware of a newfound interest in Edward Norton, an actor who was simply a peripheral blip in my consciousness. I know that I’ve enjoyed all of the roles I’ve seen him play, and a quick look at IMDB tells me that I’ve seen quite a few of his films, but I’ve never found more than a certain respect for his talent. I’ve never been drawn to him as an actor; I’ve never intentionally seen his films simply because he was featured. That has now changed.
The Painted Veil is a quiet, unsettling, beautiful, satisfying film with phenomenal performances by everyone involved (Norton, Naomi Watts, Liev, etc). It is a love story, yes, but quite untraditional. It is more a story of redemption and forgiveness, and of love that rises from the most complex emotions and events. I am captivated still by the film. And it’s becoming more and more rare to find a film that truly sweeps you up in its quiet beauty. The Painted Veil sweeps you. Languid seems a fitting description.
As is my habit when “discovering” a new actor, I will now make it a point to view Norton’s filmography with a new perspective on the man himself. His character of Walter in The Painted Veil was so rigid and cold and proud yet simultaneously compassionate, loyal, and honorable, and I felt such depth of emotion for the character. I felt so moved by him. Most certainly this is to Norton’s credit, so I have to wonder whether I will find that same depth of emotion for his other characters now that I can see past the roles to the man behind them. The next few weeks will tell that tale. For now, I have the Walter Norton, and it’s such a sweet discovery.
This is why I love the cinema.