Memoirs of a Geisha Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2010
The visuals and technical aspects are indeed splendid; but the problematic narrative, though enjoyable to follow during most of the time, seems like a cheap soap-opera that even comes up with a ridiculous revelation in its pathetic, melodramatic last half-hour.
Super Reviewer
½ July 29, 2010
Taking on an immense time period and a form of culture that has never been appropriately touched upon, this film does a lot with the book it's based on, creates a wonderful tapestry of history, culture, and most importantly, shows women as commodities. The story begins with a poor little girl in China, who is sold, along with her sister, to a geisha house in a metropolis. She is disconnected with her family, eventually becomes orphaned, and has to move through societal traverses in order to become a geisha, all just so she can survive. The story is not all about her struggles as a woman in a territorial society. The geisha, Sayuri, is also in love with a Chairman whom she met while in her struggles. She is peaceable, quiet, and contemplative at all times, and though she doesn't grow up as a geisha, she acts the part at all times. Zhang Ziyi's performance as Sayuri speaks on the quietness of women in 1920s China, about the art form that exemplified being a geisha, and the taciturn power women held when they used their sexuality as a form of power. There are struggles for power between geisha houses and the women try to gain agency and yet let themselves slip into oblivion time and again and yet feel like they're climbing the social ladder. While Sayuri simply tries to stay in the game in order to win affection and finally be loved, others remotely care about their future as a possible Madame and their link to a future of exploitation. The geisha culture itself is not always explained in the full way it was in the book, and some of that translation is left to be interpreted through intense cinematography, immense sets, period clothing, and the performances from actresses Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Youki Kudoh. It feels and looks as Japanese as a Western audience can expect, but most of the time it felt belabored, longwinded, and far too Hollywood. A Japanese adaptation would have been more powerful, daring, and ultimately may have accomplished what this film lacked. There wasn't much that is learned about what it is to be a geisha from this film except several parlor tricks. As a film that represents history, many of the customs and elaborations weren't correct, and it relied on baseless events in order to drag the film an extra forty minutes in screen-time that it didn't need. The ending was predictable from almost the beginning of the film, but I enjoyed the sappiness of a good love story. Though the film was criticized for using Chinese actresses for Japanese parts, the performances themselves were interesting, especially Gong Li's. The story though is ultimately tried and true, and though this Americanized, saturated version isn't what I expected, it does do what the audience really wants.
Super Reviewer
January 19, 2012
Gorgeous movie.
Super Reviewer
August 13, 2011
Having read the book, I found that the film version of Memoirs of a Geisha was a near flawless film with an incredible story. This film is the perfect example of a love story done right. I felt that the characters truly felt something for each other and the chemistry between Ken Wantanabe and Ziyi Zhang was believable. Unlike most romance films, you feel that emotions between the two characters are real and don't feel corny. Memoirs of a Geisha is a terrific, well acted film. Probably the only weak point of the film is the casting of two Chinese actresses in the role of the leads, Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang. I thought that this film should have had an all Japanese cast, but unfortunately, it didn't. Despite this small flaw, Memoirs of a Geisha is a stunning film that is beautifully acted, directed and told. Not only that, but the film looks stunning. A beautiful film that I believe is one of the best Romance films of the last ten years. This is better than most romance films in my opinion because I felt the characters in the film had genuine emotions going on. This is a near flawless picture that will stay with you long after you've seen it. Rob Marshall has crafted a beautiful film that has incredible performances and this is overall a solid piece of film.
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2007
Memoirs Of A Geisha follows the life of a girl sold by her family from a poor fishing village into servitude in a geisha house. Looking like a who's who of all the usual Asian suspects (although a few more Japanese faces mightn't have gone amiss) this film is one of those visually sumptuous period pieces that has "Oscar Nominated" written all over it. It plays out like a ritualization of sexual politics in which the feisty young heroine wins out in the game of social one-upmanship with her sluttier, bitchier rival to become the most envied and admired woman in town, all the while holding a torch for her one true love (who just happens to be dashingly handsome, wealthy, influential and unattainable too. Surprise surprise...) It's easy to be cynical at these kinds of thing, but the cast are impeccible and the costume design, sets and cinematography all splendid, but I couldn't help noting the irony of the post war section of the film in which Zhang is distraught at the sight of "her" culture becoming a homogenized post card to be sent back to the states. After all, isn't this film just a pseudo high brow extension of that very same process...? I must admit I did enjoy the peek behind the petticoats of homogenized Japanese culture, being as interested in it as the next western devil, and the combination of period detail and intellectualized soap opera is quite entertaining. I can't really take it seriously as a piece of art however, because it's really the visuals that make this film what it is; scrape away the elaborate make up and you have a generic female crowd pleaser (the learning-to-be-a-geisha montage in particular made "You're The Best" from The Karate Kid pop into my head) and it's really just Pretty Woman for Guardian readers.
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2009
Ziya Zhang is very talented Actress. I have seen many of her Asian Movies before Steven Spielberg discovered her. Who ever thought?

Memoirs of Geisha moved me alot.

You cannot say to the sun, "More sun." Or to the rain, "Less rain."

Water is powerful. It can wash away earth, put out fire, and even destroy iron

What better advise to follow than your own.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2008
Nice story that takes a lot of time to tell. I had to watch with subtitles even thought they spoke English, it was still difficult to understand. Educational about what a Geisha's life would be like, but still a good bit of mystery.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2010
Never knew what Geisha was. This was okay.
Super Reviewer
May 23, 2010
I must say I think it was a very faithful adaptation to the book. Perhaps because of that reading, I did not find as dull as other reviewers on here. Visually, it was very pretty, but this story is about social class, structure with a lite touch on love. It's about a geisha, not a girlfriend. I liked it a lot, but that was me. I found all the actors to be fantastic and very bit of it captivating.
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2007
The experience of watching this film is mesmerizing. Not only is it beautiful, but the acting is terrific all around. I didn't want it to end. Can't wait to see it again to soak in the atmosphere and story more deeply. The use of color alone is worth studying closely. Later revelations paint certain characters in whole new lights, so I look forward to watching those performances again more omnisciently, to see nuances I'd missed.
Super Reviewer
½ July 28, 2006
The film occasionally captures some amazing views, this slow movie epic is revealing and intriguing.
Definitely worth a watch for the theme of the film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 15, 2006
This U.S. film production of Japan is very fascinating and interesting story of a 'geisha' what I wanted to give some experiences on Japanese culture. Zhang Ziyi does a wonderful performance as an innocent girl who rises to prominence as a geisha. The landscapes of Japan look fantastic.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2007
Compelling and well made.
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2007
As someone who truly likes japanese culture (both ancient and modern), I found this movie fairly interesting from the get-go, despite having heard so many luke-warm and negative reviews. The story is quite sad, lenghty and melodramatic, but I kind of liked it anyway, as it gave a good in-depth look at the complex life and protocols of a geisha.

It's certainly not a movie for everyone, but if you can handle its long running-time and look past the fact that the dialogue is in english (which unfortunately gave it a less authentic and more stilted feel), you may find it worth the watch for its beauty alone. For this film, regardless of said weaknesses, was a pleasant feast for the eyes.
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2006
I've said I never get tired of Ziyi Zhang, and this film has not changed that. This being said, I wonder if we'll ever move to a point where stories told about people in, say, Japan are acted using, oh, Japanese language? The brokenly accented English here is just plain sad. If the script couldn't be done in Japanese, regardless of the book it came from, the film should not have been made. And I love Ziyi Zhang and Gong Li -- they're on my favorite actors list -- but they really, seriously, searched high and low, beat every bush, and still could not find three Japanese actresses to play the three principal roles? Not Norika Fujiwara? Not Takako Tokiwa? Not Yukie Nakama? Not even Chiaki "Gogo" Kuriyama? Nobody? Really? Man . . . truly sad all the way around.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2007
Beautiful movie.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2007
I enjoyed this tale of a young girl's life from child to famous geisha, but it just didn't hold my attention enough to give it a full four stars. The sets and costumes were beautiful, and I fully intend to buy the soundtrack. Zyang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh were good in their roles, Ken Watanabe was wonderful as usual, and Gong Li had me hating her as the spiteful geisha. I even learned some things about the geisha life of which I wasn't familiar. But there just seemed to be an emotional element missing for me. And the ending didn't work for me. I would have preferred for it to go the other way. Not a waste of time by any means, but I would have liked a little more substance to go along with the beauty of it all.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2007
Excellent. Beautiful. Stunning. I have yet to see Zhang Ziyi in a film that was not mesmerizing. This movie is a beautiful depiction of a culture within a culture...a heritage. Forget the "farewell"...come to me my concubine.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2007
not as good as I thought it was going to be.
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2007
beautiful but boring.
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