10:25 PM, 4th May, 2006
An adaptation of the Arthur Golden novel of the same name, Memoirs of a Geisha starts in pre-World War II Japan and follows the story of Chiyo, a little girl who is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto by her impoverished father. On arrival at the house the head geisha, Hatsumomo (Li) takes an instant dislike to the pretty little girl and sets out to destroy any chance Chiyo has of happiness. As a servant girl Chiyo meets the Chairman (Watanabe), who inspires her to work hard to be chosen for training as a geisha. With the help of Mameha (Yeoh), Hatsumomos rival, Chiyo (Zhang as the teen and adult Chiyo) is given the "geisha name" of Sayuri and makes her debut, where she must compete with Hatsumomo for the best clients. But her ultimate goal is to win the heart of the Chairman.
The film brings to life the extravagant beauty of the geisha, with stunning kimonos that could only be imagined when reading the book. One small controversy was that the three main actresses (Li, Zhang and Yeoh) are not Japanese (but hey, Christian Bale is English yet he was the star of American Psycho! ). For non-English speakers to speak English in a film would be hard enough, but to have to add a Japanese accent made it that much more difficult and the actresses sometimes stumble over the English dialogue. That's a small issue for an otherwise great film.