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Francois Girard's adaptation of Alessandro Baricco's novel is a visually arresting period piece, set in the 1860s, that addresses memory and loss. Michael Pitt stars as a young Frenchman convinced by a hustling silk merchant (Alfred Molina) to abandon his military career and journey first to Egypt, then to Japan to purchase silkworm eggs to replace the blighted European variety. Japan at that time was a culturally isolated land torn apart by warlords, but he becomes transfixed by it once he meets the mysterious concubine of a baron with whom he trades. His growing obsession disturbs his devoted wife (Keira Knightley), and the final act becomes a meditation on love's tragic consequences. R, 116 min.

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