Starring Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Watanabe, Kaori Momoi, Mako, Youki Kudoh, Kōji Hashimoto
At the end of the 1920s, a young Japanese girl, Chiyo, with unique eyes begins working in a geisha house where the work is hard and jealousy abounds. As she grows up and Japan enters into World War, Chiyo (Ziyi) becomes one of the most desired geishas in the area but never gives up her dream of being with a kind older gentleman, the Chairman (Watanabe), she met as a child. Doomed to unfair criticism by casting controversy-the three leads are Chinese-Memoirs of a Geisha is a wonderful escapist fantasy provided you understand that this is what it’s aiming for. It’s not a gritty, realistic look at the hardships these women faced during that era. It’s a glossy, sumptuous fairy-tale and the director, Rob Marshall, excels. Those looking for weightier themes may want to look elsewhere, but those who can accept beauty as a theme and happiness as an ending will be glad to lose themselves in the world of Chiyo. As for the casting controversy, I believe that it was only an issue because the three Chinese women are so famous, so recognizable that for some, it may be a distraction.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-