19 July 2006 | Incalculacable
Garbo shines in mediocre story
Based on a book by W. Somerset Maugham of the same name, The Painted Veil tells the tale of Katrin Koerber (Greta Garbo) who is lonely after her sister's marriage, with whom she was very close. She agrees to marry her father's research associate Dr. Walter Fane (Herbert Marshall) who takes her to China. However, he is deeply involved with his work and often neglects Katrin in favour of his work which leads her to seek love and attention from another man: Jack Townsend (George Brent).
Although I have been unsure of Garbo's acting abilities at times, she does well and truly shine in the role of the unfaithful and confused wife - a complex character which she masters with ease. Herbert Marshall does a good job of her husband caught between emotions and George Brent not a terribly good looking man was unconvincing as her lover. These two men seem to fade into the background when Garbo is on screen her exotic; cat like appearance really captures the audience despite not playing a glamorous character!
The scenery of old China is lavish and the costumes for Garbo are a pleasure to see. However, the divine Greta Garbo is the only thing that really makes The Painted Veil watchable. The plot is thin and weak but Garbo does a wonderful job and makes the melodramatic material believable and interesting. Not a great film, but watch it for Garbo.