Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha


Year: 2005

Director: Rob Marshall

Length: 155 minutes

Category: Drama

Media: Film

Studio: Sony Pictures

Rating from Australia: M

Rating: 3 out of 5

For our third film in a week we saw Memoirs of a Geisha, and whilst it was a good film it didn’t quite measure up to the previous two (TransAmerica and Kenny) for either of us. Whilst Donna had read the book before I hadn’t, but we both came away with the same feelings that it was a good film but not quite as good as the others.

The acting was OK, but Gong Li as the thorougly malicious Hatsumomo did better than Ziyi Zhang (who played the lead role) who was probably a bit too quiet for me, and Donna felt that the character in the book was stronger than she came across in the film. That seemed to mirror the rest of the acting, some was very good and some was OK.

The settings, camera work and feel of the film was very good and the sound was also well done, but it still didn’t quiet get out of the “good” area into the “great” area, which was a bit of a shame.

As I said, I’ve not read the book, so I wonder a little about why the historical background against which the film is set (1930’s through to 1940’s) is so far in the background. There is a radio announcer reading news at time, but he is barely audible and it was hard to work out what he was saying. There is no feeling that Japan is at war, either in China or in the Pacific until Japanese troops evacuate their town and I’ve got this nagging feeling that this has had to be suppressed because of what happened in China. Manchuria is mentioned in passing a couple of times, but that’s about it.