in 1929 an impoverished nine-year-old named “chiyo” from a fishing village is sold to a geisha house in kyoto’s gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head geisha hatsumomo…
based on the novel by arthur golden, so most of the story was fictional. in the very begining, you would hear people talking and whispering in japanese with no subtitle at all. then when young “chiyo” was brought to her new house in kyoto. she magically knew how to speak english! through out the movie, audience should prepare themselves to listen to strange english accent. that was no problem with me, but it was kinda annoying when every character spoke english and japanese at the same time, shouldn’t they stick to one language when they were talking? you would hear something like ‘o-ga-san’, ‘arigato’, ‘o-ne-san’ and so on along with english sentences.
the plot was totally a fiction and nothing like the true story. “chiyo” miraculously became the highest-priced geisha ever within a matter of months with the training by “mameha” the legendary geisha.
however i did enjoy the first part of young “chiyo” played by 大後寿々花 (ohgo suzuka), she was brilliant. i believe she will be a great star of tomorrow. gong li’s performance in the role of “hatsumomo” was stunning. she nailed it everytime she entered the scene, everybody else just faded into the background even “zhang ziyi”.
lastly, if you’re interested in true story of geisha, i’d suggest you go get a book called “geisha, a life” which was written by real geisha who inspired arthur golden, the author of memoirs of geisha, 岩崎峰子 (iwasaki mineko) available in thai and english.
i really hope that japanese movie studio would pick the book “geisha, a life” and make it to big screen in original japanese dialogue someday.
movie: memoirs of a geisha | director: rob marshall | rated: pg-13 | release: 2005