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Memoirs of a Geisha Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… half-baked romance … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Oh, what awful voices -- clumsy words as well as cheesy accents -- come out of the actors' mouths! Though I wanted to appreciate the human story, and the lavish spectacle, I couldn't get past the clangorous echoes of Charlie Chan.

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Not since "Snow Falling on Cedars" have I seen so pedigreed a lit-pic sit there like such an inert teapot, available only to be admired for its mysterious, ineffable Asian teapotness.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Memoirs of a Geisha is like a sumptuous piece of silk: stunning yet ultimately flimsy. You wish it were more like a kimono, richly woven, multilayered and more substantial.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    There's no doubting that Memoirs of a Geisha is a lush motion picture, and it has much to recommend it, but this will not go down as one of the great screen romances of the 2000s.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Here is a film about Japan made by Americans, shot mostly in the U.S. and, of course, in English. Once you accept these compromises in the name of international filmmaking, none is a real deterrent to enjoying this lush period film.

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  • See all Memoirs of a Geisha reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Gorgeous, but slow-moving and not meant for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while this film is beautiful, it's slow-moving and occasionally scary, not designed for young children. The film includes some images of streets under siege (China and Japan are at war), as well as tensions inside the geisha house (one character sets fire to the house, leading to some frightening images). The film begins with the traumatic scene of a young girl sold to a geisha house by her poor parents, and shows her upset when she's forcibly separated from her sister, who works at another house.

  • Families can talk about the film's portrayal of geisha life: it is mysterious but also difficult. How does the film both "westernize" its characters and "exoticize" them, so they are both conventionally sympathetic and stereotypically "inscrutable"? How is Sayuri's love for the Chairman a function of romantic conventions more than a substantive relationship between the two characters? How is the idea of the geisha associated with "submissive" and servile women?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Geishas compete ruthlessly, by embarrassing rivals or ruining reputations; geishas are expected to sell their virginity.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Young sisters are violently separated (leading to tears and loneliness); scenes of war and invasion; characters argue and fight (some slapping); a woman tries to burn down the geisha house.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Geishas do not technically sell sex, but rather, the idea of it: their "exotic" displays are seductive; a young woman is assaulted by a wealthy man.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink and smoke cigarettes.