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.


About Jules Q

sharing stories of life, faith, and love for pop culture

Posted on 13 May 2007, in What I Watch and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. hey you would have been more satisfying with this film if you hadn’t focused mistakenly on norton and walter fane as being the lead actor/character of the film because he is not. just as garbo was in the 1934 version, naomi watts is the lead (both the opening credits of the film and its official poster say so) and this film is about the self-discovery and growth of kitty fane, as maugham wrote in his novel. this is the story of kitty, not walter fane.


  2. All that you say is true, steandric, which makes Norton’s performance all the more astounding to me. The story is fully centered on Kitty, the film’s perspective is hers, and yet, in the midst of it, Walter subtly came to the forefront, and Ed Norton made me care most about Walter.

    While Norton’s talent has not gone unnoticed by me in the past, A Painted Veil serves as my wake-up call to all this actor can do. And that’s surprising since it wasn’t nearly his best performance. He simply played the character, but he caused all empathy and interest to shift away from the lead.


  3. Edward Norton is one of the best actors. I like his movies!


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