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Genres: Romance , Drama
Actors: Hisashi Hidaka , Aki Ishimaru , Shiho Takamatsu , Chizuru Ohnishi , Lynne Langdon , Miwako Kawai , Barbara Lott , Yutaka Honda , Judy Ongg , Ewan McGregor , Hideko Yoshida , Ken Ogata , Yoshi Oida , Vivian Wu , Ken Mitsuishi
Director: Peter Greenaway
Country: Luxembourg, France, United Kingdom, Netherlands
Year: 1996
IMDB Rating: 6.5/10 (8494 votes)

As a young girl in Japan, Nagiko’s father paints characters on her face, and her aunt reads to her from “The Pillow Book”, the diary of a 10th-century lady-in-waiting. Nagiko grows up, obsessed with books, papers, and writing on bodies, and her sexual odyssey (and the creation of her own Pillow Book) is a “parfait mélange” of classical Japanese, modern Chinese, and Western film images.

Film Review

A beautiful Japanese broad gets off on body-writing. This is certainly not the way Greenway would have put it, but it pretty much captures the essence of this movie. While a far, far more believable (though silly) fetish than the one unleashed on us poor viewers in Cronenberg's "Crash", it's still nothing more than another sexual-fetish movie that delves too much on one and the same thing. Greenway basically packages this story – essentially a story of a light sexual perversion – in his trademark arty style. However, this time he made a film that is easily more accessible than his previous ones. (The accentuation is on "more".) The first half-hour is very much typical Greenway: "floating" pictures and scenes, some sort of poetry or literary readings, no concrete plot, visual showing-off, etc. But as soon as Vivian Wu leaves Japan we suddenly witness a premiere in Greenway's film-making career: (more-or-less) normally shot scenes. What follows …

This is a very strange film about a young girl whose writer father writes on her as a child and each year on her birthday. This becomes an obsession for her as an adult and she chooses her lovers by their calligraphy skills. She falls for Ewan McGregor who happens to work for the same publisher who, as a child, she saw violate her father in return for publication.The film follows her journey through life until she is able to have the publisher killed after his final sin, of skinning McGregor who having offended her by sleeping too long with the Publisher accidentally kills himself trying to make a dramatic gesture to gain her forgiveness.The film has a lot of split screens and used miniature screens to contrast past with pleasant and black and white with colour. There is no consistency to this technique and sometimes the past is in colour sometimes black and white, sometimes the past is the main picture and sometimes the miniature. Song lyrics in French periodically scroll across as s…

Visually cluttered, plot less, incredibly mind-numbing rubbish. Not even close to Greenaway’s better work. Avoid at all costs!The overlapping ‘split screen’ effects do nothing more than confuse, the film is very dark for a lot of the time and the ‘artistic’ composing of images is pretentious in the extreme.There is absolutely nothing to recommend about this film; even the nudity is incredibly unerotic, which seeing it fills a large part of the film soon gets very boring.Plus, how anyone can say that the acting of Ewen MacGregor is brilliant is beyond me. He showed more ability in the Star Wars series, and that’s saying something.I’ve not been so unimpressed with a film since I saw ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’!