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Nine-year old Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo) and her sister are sold by their poor parents to become Geishas in “Mother’s” (Kaori Momoi) okiya (geisha training house). Her sister is rejected and sold to a brothel, and little Chiyo grows up with hard work and constant humiliation by intrigant Geisha Hatsumomo (Li Gong). Chiyo tries to find her sister, and when they finally meet, they want to escape together – but Chiyo is hurt when she tries to escape over the roofs, and her sister leaves without her. Chiyo is being punished hard – she no longer shall become a Geisha, but a slave in the okiya.
From the moment she meets The Chairman (Ken Watanabe) who is friendly to the sad little girl and buys her sweetened ice, she is determined to become a Geisha and meet the one man who was friendly to her again. With the help of Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), a veteran Geisha, she gets another chance and quickly learns what it means to be a true Geisha. And one of the things she learns is that a Geisha is not here to fulfill her own desires.
“She paints her face to hide her face. Her eyes are deep water. It is not for Geisha to want. It is not for geisha to feel. Geisha is an artist of the floating world. She dances, she sings. She entertains you, whatever you want. The rest is shadows, the rest is secret. “
When Chiyo’s training is finished, she gets a new name – Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang). And Sayuri soon learns her lesson – she meets The Chairman again – but is assigned to entertain his friend and partner, whom The Chairman owns his life. And then World War II begins, and the days of the Geishas are over – they are separated and evacuated into safety by The Chairman. Will Sayuri see him ever again?

memoirs of a geisha Great acting and beautiful photography alone do not make a great film – the problem with MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is that there is not enough story and emotion for 145 minutes of running time. Suzuka Ohgo as little Chiyo rescues the beginning, and Li Gong’s activities as jealous schemer are interesting enough, but then the years are passing, and not much is going on, which perfectly reflects Sayuri’s life – she’s waiting forever to be with Ken Watanabe, and feelings are not for the Geisha. But confronting the audience with the same longing for something to happen and some emotion is hardly the best way to communicate this. The ending finally will divide audiences between those who just dismiss it as soppy and those who will think it was worth the long wait.

One Response to “MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Rob Marshall”

  1. blackymail Says:

    We enjoyed a sense of harmony in the film until actually seeing the American troops grunting round like morons. And in a way we would have liked to move through life with more grace. But that influence didn’t actually last till the end of the film until we desperately rushed for the toilets. The film was simply too long.

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