I read the novel `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco and loved it. Therefore, I was rather wary of seeing the adaptation. But when I saw the film, I was not disappointed; the visual imagery is beautiful and the Japanese symbolism was well-related.
The location of the story is France in 1862. Herve (Michael Pitt) is convinced by Baldabiou (Alfred Molina) to travel in search of silkworm eggs in order to save the silk-making business. Herve travels to Africa and Japan. During his trip to Japan, he falls in love with a Japanese concubine. When he returns home to France, he cannot forget the Japanese beauty and continues to obsessively long for her.
The untranslated Japanese conversations allows the audience to relate to the main character, as he too does not understand the language. Keira Knightly made a wonderful `Hélène' but I wasn't convinced by Michael Pitt as the main character `Hervé Joncour'; the obsessive inner turmoil wasn't portrayed well on screen. Overall, however, I think the film is well-worth seeing.