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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 144 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: 61 out of 88
  2. Negative: 19 out of 88
  1. 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.
  2. Jan 26, 2013
    Simply from a visual standpoint, it is a masterpiece. While some thought it was boring and not engaging, I thought everything went smoothly. The melodramatic performances are what made it better in my opinion, and the story is interesting. Expand
  3. Jul 5, 2013
    I honestly believe this movie is terribly underrated. It is very well acted first of all and looks beautiful. This is a great story about the life of an orphaned girl sold by her dying parents to the sex trade. Then brought up to become a geisha. It is a very moving story and is very much a chick flick but it is far from boring and unsatisfying. If you do not like chick flicks then I would not suggest this to you but I do not like chick flicks usually and I love it still. If you manage fall asleep watching this film then you should just stick to watching explosions. But if you like movies with great acting and a compelling story then you will likely love this movie. My only gripe with it is that it does sorta feel like it is dragging on forever. The movie is 145 minutes long so you better be ready for the length. But the story is good enough to grasp my attention for the whole ride. Expand
  4. Sep 17, 2010
    i simply love the movie. the images the atmosphere the music is so exotic and it makes you wanna be there. the acting was great, the costumes were just incredible. i dont know much about the japanese history and habits, but after seeing this movie i wanna know more and more. it really is a wonderful movie and i think everyone should see it because its worth it! i loved the plot, the fact that sayuri wanted to become a geisha to meet the chairman again, i find that totally sweet. and of couse the "forbiden love" never gets old Expand
  5. Dec 16, 2010
    Been a while since I have seen this but I remember I liked it so much I want to watch it again now. I'm so glad they didn't feel like they had to have some flying karate master in here with a sword. Beautifully done and acted! Expand
  6. 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
  7. Apr 5, 2012
    A interesting movie...has really good moments and the atmosphere felt real. It opens up a window to other culture, so different than ours. The art direction should be applauded. Yet is not a masterpiece, but I think it deserves a 7...less than that would be unfair. Expand

See all 88 User Reviews