Alessandro Baricco’s 1996 international bestseller Silk arrives on the big screen nearly as dead as the diseased silkworm grubs that set its slender storyline in motion. The Canadian director François Girard and his co-scenarist Michael Golding negate any potential for dramatic momentum by the incessant use of voice-overs to explain the thoughts and actions of their 19th-century protagonist, a French silkworm merchant named Hervé Joncour, here embodied by a desperately miscast Michael Pitt.
Pitt has given engaging performances elsewhere, notably in Bernardo Bertolucci’s underrated The Dreamers and in his other current film, Delirious, in which he plays a homeless youth-turned-reality-TV sensation. As Joncour, however, an upper-crust gentleman of the early 1860s, Pitt doesn’t even try to invent a believable character. The normally handsome 26-year-old looks pudgy-faced and morose throughout . . .
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