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The Painted Veil (2006)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 19 January 2007 (USA)
0:31 | Trailer
A British medical doctor fights a cholera epidemic in a small Chinese village, while being trapped at home in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful wife.


John Curran


Ron Nyswaner (screenplay), W. Somerset Maugham (novel)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 10 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Catherine An Catherine An ... Hostess
Bin Li Bin Li ... Te-Ming
Bin Wu Bin Wu ... Student 1
Alan David Alan David ... Mr. Garstin
Marie-Laure Descoureaux Marie-Laure Descoureaux ... Sister St. Joseph
Sally Hawkins ... Mary (scenes deleted)
Juliet Howland ... Dorothy Townsend
Toby Jones ... Waddington
Lorraine Laurence Lorraine Laurence ... Sister Maryse
Gwing-Gai Lee Gwing-Gai Lee ... Angry Chinese Man (as Johnny Lee)
Li Feng Li Feng ... Sung Ching
Gesang Meiduo Gesang Meiduo ... Amah
Edward Norton ... Walter Fane
Yin Qing Yin Qing ... Student 2
Ian Renwick Ian Renwick ... Geoffrey Denison (as Ian Rennick)


This love story has Kitty (Naomi Watts) meeting young, intelligent, shy and somewhat dull Dr. Walter Fane (Edward Norton), whose forte is the study of infectious diseases, and the convenient marriage to which she finds herself committed. It is in this web of intrigue that they head for China, only after Walter discovers Kitty's infidelity with the dashing and witty diplomat Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber). So much as to hide her from herself and to help thwart a cholera outbreak, this is a marriage more than on the rocks. This is a cold, indifferent, and loveless partnership in a vast unknown and deadly environment that will test both of these flightless lovebirds and with the hardships and tolerances more than any had ever anticipated. A visual delight amidst the pain and suffering of dying people and failing marriage. Will a cure be found for both, before it's too late? Written by Cinema_Fan

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some mature sexual situations, partial nudity, disturbing images and brief drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This movie was originally being developed by Producer Bob Yari's Stratus Film Company. When Stratus Executive Mark Gill left for Warner Independent Pictures, he brought this project with him. See more »


The river moves very slowly, indicating minimal slope. Yet the bamboo aqueduct, which is supposed to bring water down-river, bypassing the burial ground, has significant slope. See more »


Kitty Fane: Men are incalculable. I thought you were just like everybody else, and now I feel I don't know the first thing about you.
See more »


Le Furet Du Bois Joli
Composed by Pierre De Berville
Arranged by Evan H. Chen (as Evan Chen)
Performed by The Choir of the Beijing Takahashi Culture and Art Centre
See more »

User Reviews

A Painted Marriage
1 November 2008 | by ChrysanthepopSee all my reviews

I found John Curran's 'The Painted Veil' to be an exhilarating and illustrious piece of cinema. Shot entirely in China, the film takes full advantage of the spectacular landscape. So beautiful and so natural does it look thanks to the breathtaking cinematography and an intense yet whimsical soundtrack. Though most of the story is set in China, even the scenes of England were filmed in China which is quite an interesting change (since it's usually the reverse).

'The Painted Veil' is essentially about the journey of a couple, a frivolous Kitty and a stubborn Walter, and how they grow during this ordeal. While some have stated that the film is too slow for their liking, it did not feel that way to me. Growth is best shown when the story takes its time rather than rushing. Meanwhile, there is plenty of other things to enjoy such as the exquisite sceneries and the witty and creative dialogues.

Edward Norton and Naomi Watts are terrific in the lead roles. They wonderfully demonstrate the transformation of Walter and Kitty. While they have the support of great dialogues and a fine director, it is their nuances and chemistry that stands out. The supporting cast is equally noteworthy. Toby Jones is outstanding while Liev Schreiber brilliantly fits the part of the charming caddish Charlie and Diana Rigg is amazing as the good Samaritan.

Curran's direction is quite remarkable. In addition to bringing it all together, I liked how he briefly tackled some themes by suggesting both sides of the issues. For example, the scene where Kitty tells Walter about the good deeds the nuns are doing, Walter brings up the problem of acculturation. Curran cleverly puts layers and depth into the film (unlike many period pieces which end up looking shallow and clichéd).

'The Painted Veil' is one of the few adaptations that work beautifully on screen. It's really a pleasure for the eyes and ears and a treat to the heart and mind.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Official site


China | USA | Canada


English | Mandarin | French

Release Date:

19 January 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Painted Veil See more »


Box Office


$19,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$51,086, 24 December 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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