The Pillow Book (1997)

Let's see if I can get it straight:  there's this Asian chick (Viv-
ian Wu), a Japanese fashion model who likes her lovers, specifical-
ly master calligraphers, to write on her bod.  See, her father was 
a writer, who started this strange business by painting poems on 
her face (and her back) on her every birthday.  However, he could 
only get published by granting sexual favors to a perverted pub-
lisher, an arrangement that his daughter was aware of from an early 
age and, I guess, set the stage for her subsequent ink and, ah, ink 
pot adventures.  (Her mother didn't help matters much either, al-
ways reading to the wee one from this 10th Century diary of erotic 
remembrance called "The Pillow Book.")  Later, in her twenties, and 
with the desire to create her *own* body of work, she spins an ela-
borate plot for revenge that involves her writing, her writing pad 
(a bisexual translator, played by Ewan McGregor) and her writing 
pad's lover (dad's old publisher, who sent her a scathing rejection 

WIFE, AND HER LOVER) directs should say everything.  (The exper-
imental narrative is an experience unto itself, with it's layered 
backgrounds, interlaced images, varied framing, and occasional 
subtitles.)  I was fascinated for a while, then grew bored, then 
was ready to leave, then became interested again, then sat up 
straight.  (The latter was during the stomach-churning second hour, 
when the director details how a body is turned into a book.  
Literarily.  Don't say you weren't warned.)  There's enough beauty 
here to choke a painted horse, but it takes two long damn hours to 
fully flesh out.  And, of course, we get gobs of full frontal nud-
ity, which is fine, except for the sex scenes, which leave you 
wondering just how aroused these guys actually are when the only 
woodys on screen are writing instruments.  (Not Rated/126 min.)

Grade: B 

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: July 13, 1997

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