Silk (R)

Drama 110 September 14, 2007
Based on a novel by the Italian author Alessandro Baricco, which I assume was more coherent than this mess of an adaptation, Francois Girard’s Silk stars Michael Pitt as Herve, a confused-looking French silkworm trader sent on a mission to Japan by his boss, Baldabiou (Alfred Molina, trying his best). While there, Herve becomes infatuated with a concubine (Sei Ashina), despite the fact that they see each other about twice and never exchange a word. Meanwhile, waiting for Herve at home is his fetching wife, Helene (Keira Knightley, who isn’t given much to do but bat her eyelashes and loll around in a field of lilies). Silk isn’t just bad. It’s utterly mad. It stutters and hiccups from scene to scene and country to country, but never once does it make narrative or emotional sense. The scenes in France are goopy, sentimental tableaux worthy of Bouguereau. The scenes in Japan are full of lush, white mists and little else. Girard is uncritically preoccupied not only with that nation’s otherness — the mystic Orient — but also with the female body. The camera treats Helene and her Japanese counterpart as pretty knickknacks, silent vessels for Herve’s uninspiring, aimless lust.
François Girard Keira Knightley, Alfred Molina, Michael Pitt, Koji Yakusho, Sei Ashina François Girard, Michael Golding, Alessandro Baricco Domenico Procacci, Niv Fichman, Nadine Luque, Sonoko Sakai Picturehouse

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