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.
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 to. While he's resisting temptation, his wife encounters her past love.
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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
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.
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This film was actually good, and I expected the worst :)...
It's interesting to watch with somebody of the opposite sex that you don't know well. You could tell a few things about her afterwards, like: Does she like classical music? Does she feel anything when watching splendid landscapes? Is she intelligent enough to figure the story's twist near the end? (I wasn't even close) Does she like "slow" movies? Can she withstand a moderate dose of "drama"? Can she feel Helene's plight?
The only character I really liked was Afred Molina's "Baldabiou". He's an entrepreneur with flavour for life. Likable, tough but sensitive. A "father figure" to "Herve", who sorely needs one with such a bore of a father! Herve's attitude to life was a bit strange to me. My friend said something that's always been there: "he never smiles". True, he barely winces, never seems to be happy, just like drowsily fulfilling a desk job. Schuyler was great in his small role. How a street smart adversary can become a restrained source of practical wisdom! Madame Blanche is also a necessary small role, but that has the life experience Herve will always lack. He surely got sympathy from smart strangers! I didn't get involved in Ludovic Berbek's story, although it's there with the clear intention of moving us. I also thought all this story of "marital unhappiness", infertility and she crying as they made love was a bit contrived. I will never like Keira, but at least she doesn't look like a "tomboy beanpole" (!) as she said on one interview. Which wouldn't be becoming for her "modest wife" role. She's not as good as her Guinevere, but at least she does her rather plain role without showing off. She doesn't look anorexic like in other roles. Maybe she didn't endure wearing a corset like on "Pirates of the Caribbean".
The best review I read was "Grady Harp from United States". I think it deserves to be the one you read first.
My favourite scene is when the local baron shows cold Herve the peaceful place he and his ancestors enjoy for watching nature and connecting with nature. I also wanted to "have a garden" after watching this, thou I content myself with some plants in the balcony :)! And Japan shows itself like a harsh country, both geographically and with respect to the Japanese. An ancient land with rules hard to understand by any westerner. I did like the fact that the Japanese dialogues weren't subtitled. Unlike "Memoirs of a Geisha" & even "the last Samurai" I think that made us feel a bit like it must have been. The sort of "ostrananie" experience that the Russian formalist extolled as "Art".
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