The Painted Veil, on my Netflix cue because I like Edward Norton, is best described as fiction in historical context, a notch below historical fiction. It tells the story of a selfless but stoic young research doctor who travels to China to fight the Cholera outbreaks of the 1920s and brings along his unwilling wife who married him because his was the best and only offer so far, and time was wasting.
The cinematography and direction were excellent. The movie puts you there in pre-industrial China. Unfortunately it almost puts you to sleep as well. I was often on the verge of losing interest at several points in the movie.
It's an interesting story but could have been more involving as the plot resolved itself had it been a true story or had you been made to care more for the characters and the love they ultimately find, albeit too late.
Edward Norton and Naomi Watts who are also listed among the producers of the film gave very good performances. Although maybe they are to somehow to blame for the lack of emotional involvement on the part of the audience.
Additionally, we were left wondering where the title comes from.
The ending is less than satisfying, and the picture at over two hours leaves you almost wishing you hadn't hung on. The movie's saving grace was the interesting settings, and the subplot mystery of Norton's character tracing the causes of and prevention of Cholera.
I wouldn't recommend it though.