November 11, 2006
"The Painted Veil"

“The Painted Veil” is a complicated but delicate film. It really is a lasting sort of story, however, and credit seems to be best served to writer Ron Nyswaner. I personally have never read Maugham’s novel, so if the first act structure of the film is apparent therein, forgive my ignorance. But my assumption is that is not so and it was the clever creation of Nyswaner to comment directly on the Fanes through a simple but purposeful structure from the first frame of the film. Whoever is responsible, the device is a brilliant one because it works on so many levels. Nyswaner (who was nominated for an Oscar in 1993 for his original screenplay “Philadelphia”) also takes a certain care to pace the story with a sense of measure, but never at the expense of interest. A film that might seem boring to some is in fact quite engaging throughout.


For the record, this is the sort of film the Miramax of old could have pushed, EASILY, to nominations across the board: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography, Film Editing, you name it.

I suspect Ron Nyswaner's condensation of a dense novel and his implementing the use of clever structuring techniques will garner him an adapted screenplay nomination at the very least, especially with "The Good German" beginning to stink up the joint. Watts could follow suit if the lead actress category begins to finally loosen up, and Alexandre Desplat's score has a real shot should he not ride in on the coat tails of "The Queen"'s buzz wave.


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