Monday, February 3, 2014

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

IMDb plot summary: Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.
Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, and Li Gong.

(Spoilers ahead for the movie's ending.)

The ending of this movie completely changed my feelings about it. Not necessarily from bad to good or vice versa, but it suddenly switched genres on me. I had been expecting this movie to end darkly and sadly, but in the end she "gets the guy" (well, as much as she's going to). It was a surprisingly feel-good reveal at the end, and though you would have thought it felt out of place with the film, it didn't. It just changed what kind of movie it was.

In the end, oddly, the movie it brought to mind emotionally was War Horse. I think it's because the ending *shouldn't* have worked with the context they set up. The ending *should* have yielded a "Really?" and an eye roll from me. But by the time it got there, I was invested in the characters, and everything inside me went, "YAY!" when it all worked out.

It's also worth mentioning that this movie looks gorgeous and offers a fascinating historical look into geisha-dom, although I don't know how accurate it is - the sudden happy ending does make me a bit more skeptical about its accuracy. Overall, I enjoyed this pretty well, and I enjoyed the surprising feel-good ending. I'll certainly remember it more than if it had finished with the sad ending I expected. 3 stars.

Flickchart: #882 out of 2012, below The Sunshine Boys (1996) and above Safety Not Guaranteed.

Buy a digital copy for $9.99.

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