Memoirs of a Geisha

Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha brings the popular novel to life, and it favors melodrama over realistic details. It’s a glossy, homogenized tale of a girl sold into sex slavery, with her greatest possible aspiration to be a geisha, essentially a hooker cloaked in ritual and tradition. It’s a creepy, sad story masquerading as an elegant tale of powdered faces and fan dancing. Ziyi Zhang is impressive as Sayuri, sold into slavery at a young age and trained to be a geisha. The film’s love story involves an older man (Ken Watanabe) who frequents geisha houses, sees the little girl, buys her a slush and follows her until she matures. In the end, it’s an icky sort of story. Gong Li is good as Sayuri’s nemesis, as is Michelle Yeoh (reunited with Zhang, her Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon costar) as Sayuri’s mentor. The story they are acting within is junk, which is a shame, because their performances are decent.

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