Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 150 Ratings

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  • Summary: Set in a mysterious and exotic world which still casts a potent spell today, the story begins in the years before World War II, when a Japanese child is torn from her penniless family to work as a servant in a geisha house. Despite a treacherous rival who nearly breaks her spirit, the girl blossoms into the legendary geisha Saguri. Beautiful and accomplished, Saguri captivates the most powerful men of her day, but is haunted by her secret love for the one man beyond her reach. (Sony Pictures) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 38
  2. Negative: 3 out of 38
  1. The story is so compelling and the movie is such a pleasure to the eyes and ears.
  2. 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.
  3. 70
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. Reviewed by: 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: 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.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 89
  2. Negative: 19 out of 89
  1. AngieF.
    Apr 4, 2008
    this is an amazing film that protrays Japan in a terrible time period of war with such beauty and grace. i love this movie.
  2. NormaT.
    Dec 16, 2005
    The three main actresses derserve to win oscars.
  3. Feb 16, 2012
    Memoirs of a Geisha is a special movie because of two things, first is not a stereotype love story, and it shows very accurately a piece of Japanese culture.
    Starting by the love story, here we see an orphan girl taken against her will to an okiya in order to become a geisha, looking for something that she cannot have, true love. In this point is where this sentimental story stands apart from the rest. When talking about a geisha, we refer to a person with the purpose of entertaining a man, but without falling in love.
    The illustration of the Japanese culture in this film is also significant, some concepts that demonstrate it are: first, the ability and capacity of improving life are determinate by the year of birth and the element that rules a person. Then we have the idea of making everything a ritual, putting aside the routine. Finally, the special meaning that gives the Japanese nation to the geishas; who are known as artist not prostitutes, and selling their skills not their body. This idea evolved with the years, until the war starts; with the arrival of the American troops the materialism is unleashed and the ancient culture is corrupted.
    With strong performances by Zhang Ziyi (highlighting the scene of the presentation as a geisha), Ken Watanabe, Koji Yakusho and Gong Li, this film treats a beautiful and mysterious subject, accompanied by an amazing screenplay and overwhelming music. It is unbelievable that a Hollywood production could capture a bit of the oriental culture.
  4. DuncanM
    Dec 17, 2005
    Like a sumptuous, lavish, stunningly produced Lifetime movie. A thin plot, terrible dialogue, poor acting but incredible to look at.
  5. Jan 10, 2012
    Absolutely loved it. A fantastic love story. Great characters. A little long but it pays off at the end. It may not be the best American-Japanese movie but it tries and kind of succeeds. Expand
  6. JoeJ
    Dec 22, 2005
    Casting's the least of its problems. Charlton Heston played a Mexican in "Touch of Evil," and that picture's reputation has grown pretty well, don't you think? No, the problem here is STIFF BOREDOM. Beautiful to look at, but then again, so is a vacation tour. Take away the eye candy and the characters, story, dialogue, it can be pretty awful and at best dull. Expand
  7. IGiveUp
    Dec 22, 2005
    And the NO DOZE AWARD goes to.... Why do they make this prosaic mundane sorry excuses for a movie? Avoid unless of course you need to catch up on your sleep? Expand

See all 89 User Reviews