The Pillow Book
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Peter Greenaway directed this elliptical and visually intricate tale of the far side of erotic and intellectual attraction. As a girl, Nagiko would receive a special gift each year from her father: a calligrapher (Ken Ogata) who would carefully paint a poem on her face, as her aunt (Hideko Yoshida) read aloud from The Pillow Book, a classic Japanese text on the art of love. As Nagiko (Vivian Wu) reached adulthood, her father insisted on putting a stop to this ritual, and he persuaded her to marry the nephew of his publisher (Ken Mitsuishi). But Nagiko is not satisfied with her husband, and… More
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© Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"At first daunting but ultimately awesomely impressive and beautiful."
‑ David Stratton, Variety
"Greenaway, whose mind is one of the most impressive, complicated organs that ever sat on the shoulders of a filmmaker, seems to be playing connect the dots to himself, almost dumbing himself down to be commercial."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"Yawn."
‑ Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
"The association of writing and eroticism. Burning books. A spectacularly gruesome death and a desecrated corpse. It's a Peter Greenaway picture all right--as stunning and inscrutable as ever."
‑ Melissa Morrison, Boxoffice Magazine
"Greenaway's characters may work fine as painting surfaces, but they have no interior life or independence that would arouse passion, and the director practically handles their couplings with tongs."
‑ Jim Ridley, Nashville Scene
"A very intimate, sensual film, and a torrid, lurid melodrama, full of passion, jealousy, hatred and revenge."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"Despite its arresting visual style, its wave after wave of creative and hypnotic images, "The Pillow Book," as its name hints, slowly but inexorably leads to sleep."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Never less than mesmerizing, even when you're not exactly sure what exactly Greenaway is trying to say."
‑ Michael Dequina, TheMovieReport.com
"The interplay of the metaphoric and the literal, of artistic form and arbitrary symmetry, might still amuse Peter Greenaway, but for most of the rest of us the game is getting a little old."
‑ Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix
"Occasionally moving, always pretty, it also veers into pretentiousness, especially when it comes to Nagiko's aphoristic writing (for instance, "Closed eyes cannot read")."
‑ Cynthia Fuchs, Philadelphia City Paper
"A seductive and elegant story that combines a millennium of Japanese art and fetishes with the story of a neurotic modern woman who tells a lover: "Treat me like the pages of a book.""
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"''The Pillow Book'' finds the filmmaker at his most atypically seductive, creating a spellbinding web of cruel elegance and intricate gamesmanship, exploring the exotic, haunting beauty of the bizarre."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Both exhilarating and exhausting, The Pillow Book is undeniably bold, sometimes beautiful, filmmaking."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Manages to carry on Peter Greenaway's tradition of cherishing both the erotic and the exotic."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"What it is is breathtaking moviemaking. Against all odds, it works, magically, transcendentally, perfectly."
‑ Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
More reviews for The Pillow Book on Rotten Tomatoes