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The Painted Veil (2006)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 19 January 2007 (USA)
0:30 | Trailer

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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.



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





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


This love story has Kitty meeting young, intelligent, shy and somewhat dull Dr. Walter Fane, whose forte is the study of infectious diseases, and the convenient marriage that she finds herself committed to. It is in this web of intrigue that they head for China, only after Walter discovers Kitty's infidelity with one dashing and witty diplomat Charlie Townsend. 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 these flightless lovebirds and with the hardships and tolerances more than any had ever anticipated. A visual delight amid the pain and suffering of a 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:



Official Sites:

Official site


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Release Date:

19 January 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Al otro lado del mundo  »


Box Office


$19,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$71,814, 24 December 2006

Gross USA:

$8,060,487, 26 April 2007

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Edward Norton personally recruited Naomi Watts for her role in the film. See more »


In the scene where the orphans are asleep in the music room, Kitty can be seen holding one of the sleeping orphans. The orphan's head changes position between shots, her head is initially tilted towards Kitty, then tilting to the other side, and finally looking straight up. See more »


Kitty Fane: I was wondering if you could tell me when the post comes through. It's for Shanghai.
Waddington: Unfortunately, since the cholera the cowards won't venture past the river port. But leave it with me. A local trader I know is making the trip on Friday.
Kitty Fane: [hands Waddington the letter]
Waddington: [reading the envelope] Townsend. Charlie Townsend?
Kitty Fane: Yes. He's an acquaintance of my husband. Do you know him?
[Kitty takes the letter back and looks worried]
Waddington: Years ago. We were both assigned to the consulate in Shanghai. Charming wife...
Kitty Fane:
Kitty Fane:
See more »


Remake of The Seventh Sin (1957) See more »


Su San Qi Jie
Traditional - No Composer
Performed and Arranged by Lin Zheng
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Are you ready for this?
12 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

Interestingly, I got to this film not because of its two leads but because of its director. The man is John Curran, an independent director with a profound vision who is riding the right path and if he continues to do so, I dare to say he'll be among the big names soon. That's, of course, if he decides to work more constantly. He's done three full-length features that have garnered awards and recognition.

I've seen two of them; "We don't live here anymore" and now "The Painted Veil", the life of a couple in the 1920's, where a man came to a woman after knowing her for a day and said: "I came here to ask you to marry me". This is what Dr. Walter Fane (Edward Norton) proposes to Kitty (Naomi Watts); and she agrees, of course because it's a chance to get as far away from her parents as possible. Fane is a microbiologist or something like it, however she doesn't care. He takes her to Shanghai, where she meets Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber).

Something awful and predictable happens. It hurts a character and the viewer and it lets Curran to deal with a theme he knows well; adultery. Anyway, this is just the beginning of a silent suffering and of a silent life with limited conversations. But strong conversations, coming from Ron Nyswaner's intelligent script, based on W. Somerset Maugham's novel. Overlooked by the Academy, Nyswaner's work allows the characters to expose their feelings mercilessly; which is exactly the way John Curran makes films.

In "We don't live here anymore" the images were violent. "Do you absolutely despise me?", Kitty asks Walter. "No, I despise myself for allowing myself to love you once", he answers. In scenes like this one, Curran's close-ups are daring; but he's also able to measure his shots to give us some beautiful landscapes. Going back to Nyswaner, he achieves the turn of the story perfectly, providing us a big gallery of characters (Toby Jones as an unpredictable neighbor, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang as a harsh Chinese colonel, Diana Rigg as a caring nun) as he deals with strong issues like terminal diseases and social differences.

Sometimes recognized as the most intelligent man in the industry, a versatile and underrated actor, Norton produced the movie (in which he's absolutely brilliant, with the English accent included) and made sure Naomi Watts was in it…Every time she appears on screen in a film she looks different; although we know it's her. Her range is more surprising by the day. Not so long ago, Watts said in an interview that she was tired of dramatic roles where she had to cry all the time; she wanted to get a big paycheck in "some stupid romantic comedy". Even so, she produced Curran's previous movie (where she was also great) and co-produced this one: she must care a little bit.

Ultimately, with all the things it covers, "The Painted Veil" is a beautiful story about love found, as in discovered; a story about regret and the purest forgiveness. I also want to comment that after watching two of his pieces, Curran has something going on with streets in last scenes.

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