Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Painted Veil

Not much written here recently as I was up to my eyes with a bid response.

Yesterday evening we went down to Salisbury to see “The Painted Veil”, the film set in 1920s China from the novel by by W. Somerset Maugham. Movie synopsis here. We though it was pretty good, but Edward Norton (Dr. Walter Fane) seemed miscast. He played the studious intellectual without warmth or social skills to such a degree it was hard to think of any woman falling for him, and especially not his hedonistic wife (excellently acted by Naomi Watts).

There was a trailer for a forthcoming film - ‘Atonement’ - from the novel by Ian McEwan, which we will definitely go to see. By coincidence I had just finished reading his novel “Saturday”, which follows an especially eventful day in the life of a successful neurosurgeon.

Henry Perowne, the main character, lives in a house on a well known square in central London, where McEwan now happens to live.

I thought “Saturday” was absolutely brilliant, with its depiction of Perowne’s rich, intelligent inner life. My quibbles were just tiny, jarring ones. Jets do not fly at 500 feet per second, it’s more like 800; London is not moving at around 1,000 mph due to the roation of the earth - that’s the equator. At London’s lattitude it’s more like 700 mph. And I thought that Perowne’s complete lack of recognition of any modern poets was completely unrealistic. Doesn’t he read ‘The Culture’ section of ‘The Sunday Times’?

Quibbles aside, the characterisation, texture and momentum just took my breathe away. I have to say that Clare’s reaction was quite different, and I will have to draw a veil over her reaction to McEwan’s trademark long descriptive passages.

Other news. Currently nursing the onset of a cold undoubtedly picked up on Thursday when I travelled by train into London. This coming week a trip to Cambridge for business development. And Salisbury was remarkably calm and peaceful for a Saturday night. Andover, where the local squaddies come for R&R, normally has phalanxes of tooled-up cops lurking in side roads around the town centre at chucking-out time!