SILK (Alliance, 2007) D: François Girard, w/ Michael Pitt, Keira Knightley. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
In 19th-century France, a young man (Michael Pitt) leaves behind his beloved bride (Keira Knightley) to buy silkworms in a remote Japanese village. There, he falls in love with the mistress of a local samurai. Back home, he’s vaguely unhappy.
It doesn’t sound like much of a story, and it isn’t – until the climax, which is surprising, original and highly effective.
Along the way, visual pleasures abound, from the lush gardens of Italy, standing in for France, through the vistas of a 19th-century voyage to a remote Japanese village. Director François Girard’s gliding camera and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s serene score keep it all moving along pleasantly.
Pitt has just the right touch of shallowness to make him an ambiguous romantic lead, and Knightley lends energy and an unforced charm to the wife. She and Girard also give good interviews that touch on the problems of playing a character who seems to have no life.
In the end, Silk depends completely on the viewer’s imagination for its effect. That’s rare these days, and a reason to give this film a look.
Extras Girard and Knightley interviews, score recording session. Widescreen. English, French audio and subtitles.