Release Date: December 9th, 2005 (NYC-Angelika Film Center, Loews Lincoln Square and AMC Empire 25)
December 23rd, 2005 (Wide) by Columbia Pictures and Dreamworks.
The Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li, KŰji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh, Kaori Kudoh. Suzuka Ohgo. Kaori Momoi.
Directed by Rob Marshall.
BASIC PREMISE: At a young age, Chiyo (Ohgo) gets sold as a servant to a geisha family and, when sheís older, she competes with Hatsumomo (Li) to become a geisha named Sayuri (Zhang).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Memoirs of a Geisha has great cinematography, sound editing, and costume design, but it lacks a solid script to tie everything together. The story begins as Sayuri recalls her youth as Chiyo, when she was separated from her sister and sold into a geisha family. Itís up to the strict mother (Momoi) who becomes a geisha out of all her children. Chiyo longs to be reunited with her real sister, but instead must compete with Hatsumomo who also wants to become a geisha. Along her adventures, she briefly meets a kind, older man (Watanabe) and, later, as Sayuri, she longs for him. Also, she meets Mameha (Yeoh) who aggressively trains her how to be professional geisha. A geisha is not very far from a prostitute because itís a form of entertaining men which, more often than not, includes sex. Itís interesting that not only are there a few sex scenes, but they are shown from a distance without any nudity whatsoever.. Each actress speaks English surprisingly well, including Ziyi Zhang in her first English-language film. The 2 hour and 24 minutes running time overstays its welcome without enough dramatic tension to hold your interest. With the exception of a scene when Hatsumomo sets her house on fire, thereís very little action.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Very few scenes are truly moving, except in the beginning as Chiyo separates from her sister and real mother. The poetic ending does try to make you teary-eyed, but you really donít care enough about Sayuri/Chiyo to be truly moved.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Weak script and not enough tension.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
THE BOTTOM LINE: Visually delightful with beautiful scenery and costume design, but dramatically inept without enough tension.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)
The "M" Menu