Memoirs of a Geisha (12A)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner11/01/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 145 mins

Gorgeous to look at but curiously uninvolving and occasionally irritating, this is ultimately something of a disappointment despite strong performances.

What’s it all about?
Based on the bestselling novel by Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha stars Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, an unusually blue-eyed Japanese girl who is sold into slavery by her penniless parents and taken under the wing of prominent geisha Mameha (Michelle Yeoh) in the 1930s.

Schooled in the mysterious geisha arts, Sayuri rises to the top of her profession and has to deal with the auctioning of her virginity and jealousy from spiteful rival Hatsumoto (Gong Li), while secretly pining for the love of The Chairman (Ken Watanabe), a kindly businessman who once bought her a snow-cone.

The Good
Chicago director Rob Marshall injects enough razzle dazzle into the proceedings to ensure that there’s always something beautiful to look at, whether it’s the sumptuous set design, Colleen Atwood’s stunning dresses or its central trio of drop-dead gorgeous actresses.

The performances are excellent, with Gong Li stealing the show - no mean feat, given that she has clearly learned her lines phonetically. Also worthy of mention are Suzuka Ohgo (who plays Sayuri as a 9 year old and bears an uncanny resemblance to Zhang) and Youki Kudoh (actually Japanese) as Pumpkin, Sayuri’s fellow Geisha apprentice.

The Bad
The film has already attracted a huge amount of criticism for casting Chinese and Korean actresses in Japanese roles and then forcing them to speak in broken English. However, the main problem is that the film fails to engage on an emotional level, particularly if you’ve seen the trailer, which foolishly gives away the climax.

The film does have its moments but it’s at least 30 minutes too long and its romance novel plot eventually becomes both predictable and tedious.

Worth seeing?
Geisha practically screams Oscar bait but there’s really little to recommend it beyond the sets and the performances. It’s gorgeous to look at but ultimately shallow and unengaging. A disappointment.

Film Trailer

Memoirs of a Geisha (12A)
Be the first to review Memoirs of a Geisha...
image
01 Sabotage (tbc)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Terrence H...

image
02 Paddington (tbc)

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins

image
03 The Maze Runner (tbc)

Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter

image
04 Blue Ruin (tbc)

Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves

image
05 The Fault in all Our Stars (tbc)

Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe

Content updated: 24/04/2014 01:40

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

We Are the Best!

Delightful, uplifting Swedish comedy that marks a long-awaited return to form of the likes of Show Me Love and Together for writer-director Lukas Moodysson.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films