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Silk - drama DVD review
Silk rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Michael Pitt, Keira Knightley, Alfred Molina, Sei Ashina, Kenneth Walsh, Mark Rendall
Director: Francois Girard   Studio: New Line
DVD release: 26 February 2008   Runtime: 109 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, Spanish), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround; English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)

Francois Girard's delicate, gorgeously shot tale of love, obsession and loss takes its story from a novella by Alessandro Baricco, ably balancing the two very different worlds and women to which a young French silk merchant and smuggler is drawn.

Dutifully following the military career path his father the mayor wants him to follow in 1860's France, Herve Joncour (Michael Pitt) comes to an unexpected bend in the road when he is approached by a savvy, daring merchant who proposes a life-changing journey. Baldabiou (Alfred Molina) has, over the course of several decades, turned the village of Lavilledieu into one of Europe's chief centers of silkworm breeding and silk production. Now an epidemic is killing silkworm eggs across the continent, and Baldabiou's proposal to Herve is a simple but daunting one: to journey into the isolation of Japan and smuggle out healthy eggs. If he succeeds, Herve will become rich, and the livelihood of the town saved.

Herve leaves his beautiful young wife, Helene (Keira Knightley), with the honestly made and oft-repeated promise that he will love her always and sets out on the dangerous trek. His first attempt is successful, and he will make several more over the years. He earns enough to keep him and Helene living comfortably in the country for the rest of their lives, but two things shadow his otherwise enviable existence: Helene's inability to have children, and his obsession with the concubine of a Japanese baron under whose protection he is able to travel and trade.

Silk is at once dream-like and mythic in its story, structure and execution. Lush but barely consummated eroticism characterizes Herve's illicit excursions into and out of Japan's snow-clad mountains; the background of his French estate weights his everyday life with Helene with the steady truth of real love. Yet when Helene becomes ill, Herve cannot shake the memory of the beautiful woman thousand miles away with whom he has never spoken but will never forget, rendering this a tale of heartbreaking, breathtaking beauty.
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reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
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