Alessandro Baricco’s slim, lovely novel Silk works through structure and language (and structural and linguistic repetition) rather than character or plot. Sure, there is a plot: Herve, its nominal protagonist, travels to Japan a number of times in search of silkworms and returns to his native France, each journey bringing greater material reward, until violence in Japan makes the journey impossible. But there are women at both ends of the world–a French wife and a mysterious young girl whose “eyes did not have an oriental slant” (in Baricco’s words)–and Herve’s relationship to these two women, related obliquely, occupies the real center of Baricco’s meditation on love, femininity, and otherness. It’s a novel in which the form is the content, which makes the prospect of a film adaptation particularly dubious. With the movie Silk, writer-director Francois Girard, whose previous credits include The Red Violin, and his co-screenwriter Michael Golding make the transition from page to screen rather bumpily, fashioning a far too conventional and dramatically inert romantic epic out of such beautiful, mysterious raw material.
Click here to read Chris Wisniewski’s review of Silk.