While the action (actually bad choice of word) takes place in two places, the protagonist’s home town in France and a village in Japan, the journey in between is handled with brevity. A trader from Japan arrives in a small English village in the mid-19th century. He is not particularly handsome or charismatic, he can’t even speak English, but the town leader’s vivacious, sultry wife, played by Keira Knightley, falls in love with the Japanese man and urges him to take her away. Why? That’s the million dollar question.
It drew me in, in made me want to visually experience every scene, it itself was a character in the story. This is actual a flaw for me, as I was more engrossed with the environment then the actual characters. The chemistry between the actors was also severely lacking. The pace was slow, which can sometimes work in period pieces to improve the atmosphere, but unfortunately here it was mostly a detriment. garden, and because of the beauty of the decor and actors. Hence the very nice note I gave. If you did not go ‘googoo’ eyed for Keira Knightley in the past you just may well in this movie; I did, but it’s not permanent. I could go on about all the scenes in Japan but I am admittedly too bias, I love all things Japan, so I will spare you all.
Alfred Molina is Baldabiou, who tells the mayor of the small town, I am going to bring back the silk business. Towards this end he recruits young married man Michael Pitt as Hervé Joncour. First he goes to Egypt to purchase silkworm eggs, and that venture is only partially successful, because of an infection among the eggs. The eggs are again attacked by disease and this time Baldabiou sends Hervé to Japan where the perfect eggs can be smuggled out of the country: the trip is arduous, long (through Europe, Russia, China to Japan), and while Hervé succeeds in securing the precious eggs, he also loses his heart to the seductive eyes of the baron’s concubine.
In conclusion, Silk is a visually dazzling story ideal for the screen, with vistas of 19th Century France, Russia, Japan etc. done beautifully. The tiny book was truly more expansive than the film, but where the film goes wrong was in dividing the hero into two people: the older businessman, and the young apprentice he sends three times to Japan. The only real flaws is it plays into the cliches in which another movie has a good-intentioned white man who travels to Asia and meets a “mysterious and seductive” Asian woman who is bound by an evil and dominating Asian man. Westerners have seen that film a million times over, and begs the question why Hollywood would even waste its time trying to prove their love to and for Asians who know better. It’s odd. Still, this is a nice slice of film that is worth your time in the end.