Apr 2008 14

François Girard up to the magnificent Red Violin is a mixed bag that starts of great and slowly devolves into something not quite as great. The film follows Michael Pitt as Hervé Joncour who decides to take on the job of a silk merchant who travels from France to Japan to get the most pure silk worms possible for local entrepreneur Baldabiou (Alfred Molina). Hervé leaves behind his new wife Hélène Joncour (Keira Knightly) for Japan, but when he successfully returns from the first trip he is able to move them into a manor and promises to build her a great garden that she can spend her days in. What Hélène doesn’t know is that an Asian woman has caught the eye of Hervé and he eagerly awaits the chance to return to Japan. I will save the story for you to enjoy, but the plot takes some twists and turns throughout that I didn’t see coming.
The look of the film is beautiful. Hervé’s journey is just splendid to look at and covers a number of Asian locales as he traverses the long trek to Japan. Girard does a fantastic job technically and his visual eye is just wonderful. The music also works very well with the film and everything thing behind the camera seems to come together, so it’s a wonder why it doesn’t work in front.
The quality of the acting never deteriorates with Molina doing some great work here. I think the Pitt/Knightly romance gets a little to romance novel for me, but also I think the story as a whole is not very grand. A story that spans continents comes across as a bit dull and uneventful with not a lot going on. The story also feels a bit repetitive as Hervé takes the trek back and forth again and again, and the connection he feels is also a bit hard to comprehend with the lack of good development of the eastern characters.
Silk is an uneven affair, the acting is superb at times, but I don’t know how strong a lead Pitt is here. The supporting role players excel though, and the movie is worth watching for the scenery alone. Fan’s of the Red Violin should check out Girard’s follow up, as should romance fans, but the movie left me wanting more of a complete package over this unbalanced product.


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