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In Austria, Katrin is lonely after her sister's marriage and she agrees to marry her father's research associate Dr. Walter Fane. Fane takes her to China but constantly ignors her in favour of his medical research. Lonely Katrin has an affair with Jack Townsend of the British Embassy. When it is discovered by Walter he becomes very bitter. Fane travels to fight a cholera epidemic and Katrin goes with him and helps. They grow closer together than ever before but Walter is knifed in a riot incited by the burning of a cholera infested town. Now their new found happiness will depend on Walter's survival. Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Garbo is luminous. Story is interesting. Execution is stale.
When I watched THE PAINTED VEIL, I thought that a remake should be made. Because the story has so much potential which couldn't have been explored sans restrictions in a movie made in the 1930s. Oddly enough, when I watched this film (early spring of 2006), it was announced that a remake of THE PAINTED VEIL was in the works and it's starring Naomi Watts in the role of Katrin. Well, after hearing this bit of news, I guess a good remake has yet to be made because casting Watts in the role played by Garbo is, well, ludicrous.
The best thing about the Garbo version of THE PAINTED VEIL is Garbo herself. She outshines the whole movie. Remove her from the film and, frankly, there's no reason to watch it. Garbo plays a very difficult role and pulls it off successfully. She beautifully underplays her role, which could have easily been fodder for scenery chewing if played by other actresses of that era. Watts has big shoes to fill.
The worst part of this version are two male co-stars, who aside from being almost indistinguishable from each other, are dull. It's hard to believe any woman would be interested in either of them, character or look-wise. And the production values, though good, aren't the most effective. Even though the budget was supposedly high for that time, there's a cheap, rushed feel to it (it was shot in two months!). No location film-making in China here. Another problem is the script which is obviously a truncated version of the W. Somerset Maugham novel. Something tells me big parts of the book were left out and the story in the film looks half complete. But the basis of this odd romance is still there and I find it fascinating. It's sorta like an anti-romance romantic story, or a reversed romantic story, which I've rarely seen before and having Garbo in this was perfect casting, because of she was such an unconventional star.
I rate the movie a 5 but because of Garbo, I give it a 7.
(P.S.: I finally read the book and did not like it at all. The Garbo film is an actual improvement)
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