14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Visually spectacular but without the intensity of the book.,
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha [DVD] (DVD)
The Academy got it about right when they awarded Oscars for Cinematography and Costume, but not acting. This film is a visual feast from the cluttered Geisha suburb of Gion, through Mahema's exquisite apartment, to the cherry blossom on the Baron's estate. However, the intensity and emotion of the book is largely lost - there just isn't time to build up the characterisation of the main players, and almost every character becomes more one-dimesional than their paper equivalent.
You don't get to experience the prolonged suffering of Chiyo, separated from her parents and sister and sold to be trained as a Geisha. Nor do you get a sense of rival geisha's Hatsumomo's relentless persecution of Chiyo. Nor how long and arduous the schooling to become a Geisha really is. Nor the heroines long struggle to be noticed by the Chairman after their initial brief encounter on the bridge. And certainly not her revulsion at the prospect of having Nobu as a patron. These scenes are all included of course, but they're rushed and you don't feel them as keenly as you do when reading the book.
But all of this is understandable, isn't it? - how do you cram a novel as rich and expansive as Memoirs of a Geisha into a film that runs for just over two hours? You can't. The actors and actresses though talented, simply don't have time to do justice to the piece, a task made harder by the struggle with English some of them experienced, which means some of the emphasis in sections of dialogue is lost or misplaced.
Positives? The bonus scenes - details on costume and make-up and even japanese recipes, make this a nice package. Style over subtance you might think. Yet despite this I still give it four stars. How could you not with a film so visually perfect.