Review

Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

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This is a film that I’ve been looking forward to watching for a long time, but at 2hrs 26 minutes, it’s been rather difficult to find the time to watch it in one sitting. I read the book, on a whim really after being part of an English lesson where the whole class reads a book, and I was hooked. It’s such a beautiful story and when I found out that there was a film (on Netflix conveniently!) I was extremely excited to finish the book and watch the adaptation.

I was worried, though, because I loved the story so much, that the film would ruin the story and not do it justice as so many book lovers often think of films, but thankfully this was not the case. The whole film is beautiful from start to finish – each shot is artfully composed and delicately edited with the greatest care. The characters are just as well developed and you really start to fall in love with the main girl and despise the nasty geisha Hatsumomo. I love the old, artful Japanese culture that comes across and the emotion that surrounds Chiyo’s loss of her sister but the film allows you to truly admire her strive to become a geisha, after she has accepted her fate.

I mean, the one thing with films is that they aren’t as long as books can be and you can never really truly grasp the length of a time period or the tediousness of situations that Chiyo seems to find herself in, particularly as a child. It’s just how it is, but I think the film succeeded in portraying Chiyo’s life and progression accurately.

I think I would also argue that I might not have understood what was actually going on as much if I hadn’t read the book… There are an awful lot of characters and a lot of complex little things happen to Chiyo which I think I only really picked up on because I knew what was going on after having read the book. I mean, I can’t say that for sure because I can’t exactly unread it but at times I felt as though I lost where the film was at.

One thing that I was really keen on seeing how the film managed it was through the character of Hatsumomo herself because she’s painted as a true monster, beautiful on the outside and rotten on the inside. I always found her an interesting character because she’s so damn crazy and focused on destroying Chiyo’s life and I think the film really did her justice. She is portrayed as a gross geisha, a nasty girl who drinks too much and sleeps around when she really, really shouldn’t and it’s actually satisfying to see her life get destroyed because of how she behaves.

I really enjoyed the book and consequently the film; I think they made it really well considering how complex and long the story is and I am really pleased that I watched it. I feel like the film enhanced my appreciation of the story because having read it there were a lot of aspects that I didn’t really understand or couldn’t picture because I don’t have great understanding of Japanese culture. I think if you were thinking of watching it, go for it by all means, I just feel like the film and book sort of go hand in hand 🙂

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