Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Silky smooth, slow but sure., 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Silk [DVD] (DVD)
A accurate and brave attempt to interpret Alessandro Baricco's complex and minimalist novella which leaves so much to the imagination, this film succeeds in creating the appropriate atmosphere, but fails to develop the main characters fully as people. This is much due to the minimalist style of the novelist whose characters are symbols, undeveloped as people, reflections of the inner story Baricco is telling. A film depends on the portrayal of people and the 'Silk' central characters are shadowy, ephemeral, almost unreal, especially the concubine in Japan with whom the central character, Hervé Joncour, falls in unrequited love.

As in the book, the most alive and 'real' character is Baldabiou, the silk merchant, and he is well played by that consummate actor, Alfred Molina. Sei Ashina as the concubine uses her eyes effectively (as she does not speak). Michael Pitt tries hard as Joncour - almost impossible to re-create as he is so undefined in the book. Keira Knightly has little to work with as the almost invisible wife, Hélène. The film 'Silk' makes the mistake of focussing on the love story - the superficial glue that hides the depth of the story beneath - rather than the complex and intricate portrayal of the strange and wonderful world of silk trading as depicted in the book.

The best aspects of this film are the Japanese landscapes of old-world Japan before the influence of the West. The Japanese mountains and the primitive living conditions, the exotic 'otherness' of an unknown world, are captured effectively and are the highpoint of the film. The domestic world of Hervé's home and his wife is intentionally mundane, to contrast with Hervé's attraction to Japan (epitmomised by his obsession with the concubine). On this level, the film partially works, but it is not enough to grip an audience. This story is much better in its original novelistic form. The film is worth watching, if only to invite and encourage viewers to read the book.
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3.2 out of 5 stars (16 customer reviews)
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