Directed by Francois Girard
Picturehouse, opens September 14
Based on a novel by the Italian author Alessandro Baricco that I will assume was more coherent than this mess of an adaptation, Francois Girards 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, he becomes infatuated with a concubine (Sei Ashina), despite the fact that they only see each other about twice and never exchange a word. Meanwhile, waiting for Herve at home is his fetching wife Helene (Keira Knightley, who isnt given much to do but bat her eyelashes and loll around in a field of lilies). Silk isnt just bad. Its utterly mad. It stutters and hiccups from scene to scene, from country to country, but never once does it make narrative or emotional sense. The scenes in France are a series of goopy, sentimental tableaux worthy of Bouguereau. The scenes in Japan are full of lush, white mists and little else. Girard is not only uncritically preoccupied with that nations Othernessthe mystic Orientbut also with the female body. The camera treats Helene and her Japanese counterpart as pretty knickknacks, silent vessels for Herves uninspiring, aimless lust.