The story of a married silkworm merchant-turned-smuggler in 19th century France traveling to Japan for his town's supply of silkworms after a disease wipes out their African supply. During his stay in Japan, he becomes obsessed with the concubine of a local baron.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Two feisty, free-spirited women are connected by the brilliant, charismatic poet who loves them both.

Director: John Maybury
Stars: Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Matthew Rhys
Pure I (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young boy trying to deal with his mother's heroin addiction befriends a waitress who helps him cope with the tough situation.

Director: Gillies MacKinnon
Stars: Harry Eden, Vinnie Hunter, Molly Parker
Last Night I (2010)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The story follows a married couple, apart for a night while the husband takes a business trip with a colleague to whom he's attracted. While he's resisting temptation, his wife encounters her past love.

Director: Massy Tadjedin
Stars: Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes
The Duchess (2008)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

Director: Saul Dibb
Stars: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An ex-con with a reputation tries to go straight by working as a handy man for a reclusive actress but this is unfortunately not the wish of London's underground crime lord.

Director: William Monahan
Stars: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.

Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen
Romance | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A young woman brings out the worst in a group of friends on New Year's Eve.

Director: Col Spector
Stars: Naomi Allisstone, Elizabeth Chadwick, Cissy Collins
Anna Karenina I (2012)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In late-19th-century Russian high society, St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the dashing Count Alexei Vronsky.

Director: Joe Wright
Stars: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The lives of three friends, from their early school days into young adulthood, when the reality of the world they live in comes knocking.

Director: Mark Romanek
Stars: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
Once Upon a Time... (Video 2013)
Short | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In 1913, designer Coco Chanel opens her first boutique in the French city of Deauville.

Director: Karl Lagerfeld
Stars: Keira Knightley, Clotilde Hesme, Ashleigh Good


Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Vogel ...
Café Verdun Man #1
Toni Bertorelli ...
Michael Golding ...
Carlo Cecchi ...
Chiara Stampone ...
Marc Fiorini ...
M. Loiseau (as Leslie Csuth)
Toru Tezuka ...
Japanese Guide
Hiroya Morita ...
Japanese Elder #1


A married silkworm smuggler, Herve Joncour, in 19th Century France who travels to Japan to collect his clandestine cargo. While there he spots a beautiful Japanese woman, the concubine of a local baron, with whom he becomes obsessed. Without speaking the same language, they communicate through letters until war intervenes. Their unrequited love persists however, and Herve's wife Helene begins to suspect. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Come back, or I shall die. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | | | |


| |

Release Date:

21 September 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Retrato de amor  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$126,537 (USA) (14 September 2007)


$1,101,711 (USA) (2 November 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


[first lines]
Hervé Joncour: Steaming water. Strange trees. Laughing children. Her skin... those eyes. But why should I tell you about it? Why now? Maybe I just need to tell someone about it. And that someone is you.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The cinema of Folly
2 April 2009 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Silk was a flop, not the international success its backers had hoped for after the director's The Red Violin made such a splash a decade earlier. It is worthy of attention, in pinpointing some cautionary messages to other would-be Visionary (that recently overworked term) filmmakers.

1. TRAVELOGUE: Film is unfortunately a highly literal, through visuals, medium, and it is easy to become mesmerized by the shots. Mature directors scrupulously avoid this pitfall, but perhaps Canadian director Francois Girard has subconsciously assimilated the approach of Terrence Malick. Like Malick, he only ventures forth from his artistic cave once a decade, and feels compelled to make each shot the most perfect and beautiful of all time. This is not cinema -this is "how I spent my vacation" -a $20,000,000 slide show.

2. FOOLED BY THE RUSHES: It could be a by-product of the far-flung co-production status (Silk is structured officially as a Canadian/Italian/Japanese project, an unusual combo), but the movie displays an age-old problem of Hollywood, caused by over-monitoring of the rushes. Many a stiff, stolid film result has looked "marvelous" in the dailies. Studios traditionally made decisions like director firings or bringing in a troubleshooter to haul in the reins on a project based on the quality of the rushes. This makes sense in a bean-counter universe, but has nothing to do with the ultimate movie, which as Hitchcock noted, is stored in the director's head. Watching Silk I was struck that the rushes coming back from the various locations truly must have looked fabulous, but that is no indicator that they would ultimately amount to anything in a gestalt sense. Only the director and his editors know what will be needed in terms of coverage, and how the pieces might mesh into a whole. It's easy to get bamboozled by striking shots, just as at the other extreme it's easy to assume the worst when a neophyte director falls behind schedule and isn't giving the execs their daily meters of processed celluloid.

3. DISTANCING: Brecht and Godard have long been the inspiration for film directors to keep the audience at a safe distance -break up the naturally hypnotic effect that a movie has for the viewer, which Hitchcock exploited to a fare-thee-well. In Silk, Girard uses the crutch of voice-over narration to sabotage one's involvement in the action/dialog/story. Like Zentropa, another pretentious exercise by a wannabe "visionary" director, the somnolent narration literally puts the viewer to sleep. His insistence on oft-criticized bland American accents for French characters further abstracts the story, and makes it near-impossible to smoothly enter into the life of the protagonists. Low affect is the instruction to lead Michael Pitt and even Alfred Molina, the latter bringing professional life to his rattled off exposition, and even some wit. Keira Knightley gets to actually emote in her patented shy-but-effusive manner, but I noticed the director cutting away from her as quickly as possible, and even though she is the key central figure of the story's romantic theme, her overall screen time is reduced to the bare minimum. The dialog by Girard and Michael Golding is almost all in the form of recitations: never sounding natural or using vernacular. That's as big a mistake as the bland American accents.

4. CRYPTIC: Adapting a novel is difficult; perhaps this is why the Academy gives a separate Oscar category for adaptations as opposed to the Original Screenplay niche for the Woody Allens of the world. Too often a film (or TV) adaptation REQUIRES that the viewer be not just conversant but well-nigh totally immersed in the source work in order to appreciate the film. (I recently watched the British TV series A Dance to the Music of Time, via Netflix, after a marathon reading of all 12 Powell novels it's based upon, and the damn thing would have made no sense whatsoever without having the books fresh in my mind.) For Silk, many basic and virtually all nuanced elements are lost without knowledge of the source, a damning fault. The intended purity of not subtitling the Japanese dialog segments falls squarely into this problem area too. The movie should stand alone, and if it can't, why bother? It's not impossible -everybody's favorite of all-time The Godfather saw Coppola creating a work of art that never requires one to go back and read Mario Puzo's pulp novel.

5. THE PITT FACTOR: Folks love to criticize young Mr. Pitt, an actor who future generations will scratch their heads over: "how did he get into so many films?". Pauly Shore, Phillips Holmes in the '30s, and many 4-F performers like Sonny Tufts and William Prince during WW II come to mind. Following the death of James Dean, for over a decade innumerable folks imitated his breakthrough persona, of which I recall Michael Parks and Christopher Jones becoming the most typecast. Now we have Mr. Pitt, the lookalike thespian doomed to live in the shadow of Leonardo DiCaprio, let alone his equally handsome namesake Brad. What a cross to bear!

6. UNLOCKING THE MYSTERY: I was reminded of Werner Herzog's overlooked classic Heart of Glass while watching Silk. Both films have transcendentally beautiful landscapes. Underneath the main romantic and cross-cultural themes, they have the same core parable: a one-industry community (Glassblowing in Herzog, Silk creation here) poised on the edge of disaster. Herzog hypnotized his cast to get a unique, otherworldly effect. Girard has Pitt & most others sleepwalking, to null effect.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: