Coming out in just a few hours in Australia (FINALLY!!), I was fortunate enough to make it to an advanced screening last weekend. And having waited a long time for this film, it came out in the US Boxing Day 2006, I was expecting good things…. and I wasn’t disappointed.
THE SET UP? (NB: Possible spoiler alerts – but nothing more than is in the trailer.) Twenty-something Kitty still lives at home determined to not be persuaded into marriage by her family, before eventually she is. Kitty marries Walter, a bacteriologist who is head-over-heels in lurve with her. She just wants to get away from her family. The couple move to Shang-hi (as all newly wed bacteriologists do) and it isn’t long before Kitty gets distracted and has an affair. When Walter finds out he volunteers his services to a cholera-infested remote town deep in China. Kitty is dragged along. Do they forgive each other? Do either of them die? But the most important question, do they grow to love each other?
Edward Norton plays Walter. I’ve always kinda liked Norton’s work but now I have a new appreciation for his amazing acting abilities. He is splendid in this. The audience totally gets Walter, his personality, his character and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Just like Margaret, I never thought of Norton as a romantic lead but he pulls it off with excellence.
I’d like to give next billing to Toby Jones, who plays Waddington, a fellow-Englishman stationed at the remote cholera-ridden village. This guy is a fine actor, who’s acting range is only limited by his physical stature. I really liked him in this. Hopefully he’ll get some more meaty roles!
Liev Schreiber plays the distraction (Charlie). I’m so immature, it makes me giggle to think that Naomi Watts and Schreiber play characters having an extramarital affair in this film and in real life they’ve been together since filming this and have a kid together! He he. Schreiber does the suave playboy thing well. Check out his directorial debut if you haven’t seen it already, Everything is Illuminated (3.5 GOLD STARS).
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM? Breathtaking cinematography. Well-spun dialogue. A beautiful, classic, old-fashioned narrative. And without giving terribly too much away – one of the best love stories I’ve seen in a film, ever. (Okay, that kind of gives everything away – but in my defence, no more than the distribution propaganda.)
WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone really. I saw it with one of my best mates. Probably not your twenty-year old brother. But anyone else. Suggestions …. friends, partners, mothers.
ANY BITS TO BE WORRIED ABOUT? From memory, I think some Chinese drugs and alcohol are involved, but, phhf! Oh, and the mild sexual activity usually involved.
THIS FILM GETS 4.25 GOLD STARS.