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Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, more...
Director: Rob Marshall, Rob Marshall
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Sony Pictures
Genre: Foreign
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, French
    see additional details...

This film, based on the novel by Arthur Golden, unfolds from the perspective of Chiyo (Zhang Ziyi), a girl who, at the age of nine, is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto in the early 1930s. Here, she learns that becoming a geisha can be the single path to wealth and independence for a woman. The head geisha of her house, however, Hatsumomo (Gong Li), is bitterly jealous of Chiyo and abuses her at every opportunity. Eventually Chiyo is taken under the wing of Hatsumomo's rival, Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), by far the most famous and successful geisha in their district. Under Mameha's tutelage, Chiyo becomes Sayuri, the most legendary geisha in the nation, skilled in all areas, from conversation to dance, and sought after by seemingly every man alive...except for the one whom she has secretly longed for since she began her training, The Chairman (Ken Watanabe) -- a man who showed her kindness at a time when her view of the world had turned the most bleak. Now as World War II approaches, Japan stands at the brink of a new era and Sayuri must confront the possibility that history will leave all that she has worked for behind. ~ Cammila Albertson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
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5.65 (98 votes)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Bonus Disc) (2005)
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4.53 (15 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Nippon via Hollywood by talltale March 25, 2006 - 7:02 AM PST
6 out of 8 members found this review helpful
It's official. Director Rob Marshall has never met a cliché he didn't like. Like? Hell: embrace, fondle and take home to meet mom! Maybe the novel from which he's helped adapt this silly film (I didn't read MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, so I can't compare) offered the same kind of colorful sugar-coating, with every moment--happy, sad or indifferent--all somehow pretty, alike and drained of energy. While my partner left the room after some 90 minutes, but I lasted out the whole 140-odd--then felt ripped-off and stupid for not vacating a lot sooner.

Adhering to the old Hollywood notion that all Asians must be alike (this IS a step up from using Shirley McLaine), the moviemakers cast their leading women with Chinese (perhaps one Malaysian) and their leading men with Japanese. Not that anyone registers badly, but unfortunately the film is bombing 'round the world, even in Asia (the Chinese have banned it and the Japanese did bother to take a look). This kind of smooth-as-silk soap opera used to be considered mainstream, but back then we had Ross Hunter to produce and Douglas Sirk to direct. And those guys understood how to create, gift-wrap and deliver their clichés!

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© 2006 All Media Guide, LLC. Portions of content provided by All Movie Guide®, a trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.