Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. We have, for your reading pleasure, an early review of the romantic drama SILK, from the director of RED VIOLIN and starring Michael Pitt (THE DREAMERS), Keira Knightley (MY DREAMS) and Alfred Molina (the badass supreme). Sounds like the movie was a little too slow in this early stage for our reviewer. I have to disagree with him on Michael Pitt as an actor, though. Sure, he has his thing, his personality is kind of set as an actor, but that's not always a bad thing. He was great in DREAMERS, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH and played really well with Steve Buscemi in the Sundance flick DELIRIOUS, hopefully coming soon to a theater near you. Let's get on to the lukewarm review. Hopefully there is still much time to tweak and perfect and we'll end up with a superior product. Light spoilers below.
Hey Harry, I caught a test screening for the new Francois Girard (Red Violin) film, SILK, last night here in Toronto. SILK is about a 19th Century French silk merchant named Herve who is dispatched to Japan to smuggle healthy silkworms back to his little town where everyone depends on silk production to make their living. While in Japan, he becomes obsessed with the concubine belonging to the head of the village that supplies him with the silkworms. The obsession threatens to derail his marriage and his sanity after he returns to France. The cast includes Michael Pitt as Herve, Keira Knightley as Herve's wife Helene, Alfred Molina and Mark Rendall. I'm a bit conflicted on the movie. I'm assuming that the pacing was meant to be slow and deliberate and I normally don't mind that as long as I feel like it's a means to an end, unfortunately, the film really lacked the drama it required to make me believe that Herve's obsession with the concubine was huge enough to have affected his life in the way the story is telling us it does. The stakes simply aren't high enough. We're made to believe that the obsession is this big pall hanging over the marriage of Herve and Helene, even though we see how devoted they are to their marriage and one another several times (for those of you that care, many of these scenes feature Keira Knightley in the buff) throughout the movie. Because of this, I was confused about what it was that Herve found so captivating about a concubine he has almost no contact with over the 15-year span of the movie. Apparently the film is based on a book in which Herve and the concubine communicate through several letters over the years but in this adaptation, there is one 6 word letter that passes between the two of them and they never actually speak directly to one another during the three or four times they see each another. One of the issues could be that the movie ran just under two hours, which is a great thing when you're bored but given the epic nature of the story-telling, I'm wondering if the film has been cut down for length and in the process, much of the drama was lost. Another issue is the cast. I'm not a huge Michael Pitt fan and although I didn't hate him in this role, he really didn't make an effort to change his facial expression or his monotone narration. Keira Knightley was completely miscast. She's far too young for the role of Helene and although they actually made an effort to age Michael Pitt's character to match the 15-year time span of the movie, Keira looks and acts 19 from beginning to end even though her charcter is supposed to be 34 by the movie's end. The supporting cast, including Alfred Molina (the scenes with him playing pool are the best in the film) are all great and the film is absolutely beautiful to look at. I really wanted to be along for the ride and for some scenes I was but I don't think the film really reached its potential. I'm hoping that after last night's test screening the film will be re-cut and some of the story issues will be fixed - although if the weeping man next to me is any indication, the info the producers gather from the audience may not be too helpful and the film will stay as is. Thanks for reading and if you use this, please call me Sugar Malone.