The Pillow Book

Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Peter Greenaway

REVIEWED: 08-25-97

Peter Greenaway applies his lush, layered cinematic style to the customarily austere Japanese aesthetic, with mixed results. Pillow Book is an extravagantly beautiful film, but like Nagiko (Vivian Wu), the empty, self-obsessed fashion model at the center of the story, it's doubtful whether all this beauty means anything. When she was a young girl, Nagiko's father used to paint calligraphic characters on her face for her birthday; as an adult, Nagiko is obsessed with having her lovely body written upon as a sort of Whitman-esque celebration of herself: "I need writing," she says. "Don't ask why. Just take out your pen and write on my arm." Later, Nagiko becomes an author and starts inking up the bodies of men, notably Ewan McGregor, who along with a host of other taut young men, graces us with that rare, sought-after cinematic moment: Full-frontal nudity. Greenaway's slavish devotion to form is dazzling, but the lack of content becomes painfully apparent as this two-and-a-half hour movie winds along.


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The Pillow Book
The Pillow Book
The Pillow Book

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