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Memoirs of a Geisha

7/10
Romance . History . Drama
 

A sweeping romantic epic set in Japan in the years before World War II, a penniless Japanese child is torn from her family to work as a maid in a geisha house.

 
Actors: Zhang Ziyi , Tsai Chin , Youki Kudoh , Gong Li , Suzuka Ohgo , Samantha Futerman , Mako , Togo Igawa , Kaori Momoi , Kôji Yakusho , Navia Nguyen , Michelle Yeoh , Ken Watanabe
Directors: Rob Marshall
Country: USA
Release: 2005-12-23
More Info:
  • William Arnold

    The story is so compelling and the movie is such a pleasure to the eyes and ears.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Kirk Honeycutt

    Here is a film about Japan made by Americans, shot mostly in the U.S. and, of course, in English. Once you accept these compromises in the name of international filmmaking, none is a real deterrent to enjoying this lush period film.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    From a filmmaking point of view, this is a work that the old Hollywood moguls themselves would have been proud to present.

    Variety Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Any doubts about three Chinese actresses speaking English with Japanese accents vanish in the face of their deeply felt performances and the world Marshall conjures with magical finesse.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Jami Bernard

    The movie may be set in prewar Japan, but it's pure 1940s Hollywood. There's costume, pageantry, melodrama, the feeling of a sweeping epic without the bother of too much accuracy, equal doses of heartbreak and uplift.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    There's no doubting that Memoirs of a Geisha is a lush motion picture, and it has much to recommend it, but this will not go down as one of the great screen romances of the 2000s.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Peter Debruge

    Marshall's Memoirs achieves something few other high-profile literary adaptations do: Rather than simply inspiring us to hunt down the source material, it actually stands alone as a film, rich in drama and star-crossed romance.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    Don't be misled by the chopsticks and cherry blossoms: Memoirs of a Geisha, for all its exotic casting and locale, is our friend "Cinderella" in a kimono.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Scott Foundas

    It's not a great movie, or even a particularly good one, but it's spectacular. No expense has been spared. The technical crew reads like a roll call of Oscar-night regulars.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Carina Chocano

    Spanning two decades and a momentous war, Memoirs of a Geisha displays all the pomp and grandeur of an epic, but you wouldn't call it sweeping.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Shawn Levy

    Indeed, the film is altogether too much like Sayuri: trying to overwhelm with surface beauty and unspoken emotion, it never hits deeper than the skin.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    I object to the movie not on sociological grounds but because I suspect a real geisha house floated on currents deeper and more subtle than the broad melodrama on display here.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Maitland McDonagh

    Simultaneously gorgeous and forgettable, sentimental and prurient.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    Memoirs of a Geisha is like a sumptuous piece of silk: stunning yet ultimately flimsy. You wish it were more like a kimono, richly woven, multilayered and more substantial.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The film version of Memoirs of a Geisha is very like a geisha itself: a thing of exquisitely refined surfaces beneath which beats an ordinary heart.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    Full of falling rain, fluttering silk, John Williams's music and whispery voiceover, Memoirs of a Geisha is one long oxymoronic exercise in attempting to show delicacy through overkill.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Angie Errigo

    A beautiful, exotic and well-acted cultural hybrid, but it’s never as moving as it ought to be.

    Empire Full Review
  • Scott Tobias

    The film comes to life whenever the cartoonishly vindictive Gong throws a tantrum, but she played virtually the same role in Zhang Yimou's "Shanghai Triad," which presented a far more compelling rationale for her star fits. Without her, this expensive piece of backlot pageantry turns vivid history into an ossified tchotchke.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Stephen Hunter

    Memoirs of a Geisha is everything you'd expect it to be: beautiful, mesmerizing, tasteful, Japanese. It's just not very hot.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Andrea Gronvall

    The international Asian stars gamely tackle their English-language roles, aided by superior costumes, makeup, and set design. But despite all the hothouse intrigue, the film lacks passion.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Not since "Snow Falling on Cedars" have I seen so pedigreed a lit-pic sit there like such an inert teapot, available only to be admired for its mysterious, ineffable Asian teapotness.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Beautiful geishas flit and whoosh through the equally beautiful scenery. Their kimonos are artworks-in-motion. So why is the film so boring? It could be because director Rob Marshall is so transfixed by all the ritualistic hoo-ha that he never brings the story down to earth.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    Memoirs of a Geisha was never primed to be a film that burns down the house.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Colleen Atwood's costumes are the best a film adaptation of a popular book can buy. They rustle like nobody's business. The film itself is equal parts silk and polyester.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    It's based on a novel, but you'd guess it came from a coffee-table book. Marvelous design, photography and costuming mark this period piece.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    A lush, lovely snooze-fest.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Too labored and cliched to incite passion in an audience.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    Well, we're not in "Chicago" anymore, or even its soundstage approximation, but that hasn't stopped Oscar-nominated director Rob Marshall from fashioning another epic spectacle out of two squabbling women in (a sort-of) show business.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    There's no life, no juice, in the picture. Instead of tempting you into submission, it merely drugs you. It's surprising that a filmmaker who gave us such a lively debut, "Chicago," could slap us with a picture as dull and worthy as this one.

    Salon.com Full Review
  • Luke Y. Thompson

    Director Rob Marshall, as he did in "Chicago," plays the movie as though it's all an embellished memory inside the head of geisha Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang), but why would she remember everyone speaking in choppy English?

    Dallas Observer Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    Mr. Marshall can't rescue the film from its embarrassing screenplay or its awkward Chinese-Japanese-Hollywood culture klatch, but Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those bad Hollywood films that by virtue of their production values nonetheless afford a few dividends, in this case, fabulous clothes and three eminently watchable female leads.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • David Denby

    Somehow the movie that Rob Marshall has made from Golden's novel is a snooze. How did he and the screenwriter, Robin Swicord, let their subject get away from them?

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Staff (Not credited)

    Trying too hard to grab our attention, he (Marshall) loses it. The art of the geisha prizes subtlety, stillness, grace. Why doesn't this movie?

    Newsweek Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    It skips lightly over the surface of its rich material, more preoccupied with making pretty pictures than dipping below the surface so that you can experience the world through the eyes of its traumatized, yet increasingly savvy, heroine.

    Slate Full Review
  • Dennis Lim

    Swaddled in the posh vulgarity that passes for awards-season elegance, Memoirs is deluxe orientalist kitsch, a would-be cross between "Showgirls" and "Raise the Red Lantern," too dumb to cause offense though falling short of the oblivious abandon that could have vaulted it into high camp.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    It is a grand-looking, grandly empty pageant.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Phil Hall

    To its credit, the film's costume design is stunning. But unless you have a kimono fetish, there's no reason to pay a good dollar (or a yen, for that matter) on this junk.

    Film Threat Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    Oh, what awful voices -- clumsy words as well as cheesy accents -- come out of the actors' mouths! Though I wanted to appreciate the human story, and the lavish spectacle, I couldn't get past the clangorous echoes of Charlie Chan.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
Add Soundtrack
  • 16. Ocho Performer: Azuma Kabuki Musicians featuring Katsutoji Kineya, Rosen Tosha, and Shozaburo Matsushima Stream Music Online
  • 17. Nagare Performer: Azuma Kabuki Musicians featuring Katsutoji Kineya, Rosen Tosha, and Shozaburo Matsushima Stream Music Online
  • 20. Musume Dojoji (The Maiden at the Dojo Temple) Performer: Ensemble Nipponia Stream Music Online
  • 23. Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (Means That Youre Grand) Performer: The Andrews Sisters Stream Music Online
  • 26. The Chairmans Waltz Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 27. Becoming a Geisha Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 28. Sayuris Theme Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 29. Sayuris Theme and End Credits Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 30. Going to School Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 31. Brush On Silk Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 32. Chiyos Prayer Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 33. Confluence Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 34. The Garden Meeting Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 35. A Dream Discarded Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 36. As the Water... Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 37. The Journey to the Hanamachi Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 38. Destinys Path Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 39. The Fire Scene and the Coming of War Medley Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 40. Finding Satsu Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 41. Dr. Crabs Prize Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 42. A New Name... A New Life Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 43. The Rooftops of the Hanamachi Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Hollywood Studio Symphony Stream Music Online
  • 44. The Chairman's Waltz Performer: John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Memoirs of a Geisha Original Soundtrack Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 45. Sayuri's Theme Performer: John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Memoirs of a Geisha Original Soundtrack Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 46. Sayuri's Theme and End Credits Performer: John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Memoirs of a Geisha Original Soundtrack Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 47. Destiny's Path Performer: John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Memoirs of a Geisha Original Soundtrack Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 48. Chiyo's Prayer Performer: John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Memoirs of a Geisha Original Soundtrack Orchestra Stream Music Online
  • 49. Dr. Crab's Prize Performer: John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman & Memoirs of a Geisha Original Soundtrack Orchestra Stream Music Online

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  • epic

  • based on novel

  • child slave

  • cinderella story

  • kimono

  • kyoto japan

  • mentor

  • student mentor relationship

  • 1930s

  • 1940s

  • world war two

  • courtesan

  • rags to riches

  • japanese culture

  • literature

  • american abroad

  • best friend

  • betrayal

  • loss of parents

  • loss of sister

  • loss of virginity

  • occupied nation

  • rivalry

  • secret love

  • sumo wrestling

  • villainess

  • colonel

  • lieutenant

  • forced prostitution

  • bonsai

  • caning

  • corporal punishment

  • whipping

  • child abuse

  • four word title

  • post war

  • coming of age

  • 1920s

  • jealousy

  • geisha

  • world war ii

  • brothel

  • sister sister relationship

  • prostitute

  • japan

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