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Memoirs of a Geisha

Incredible to look at, but frustratingly hollow at its center, 2005's MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA strands its stars despite their best efforts.

We are immersed immediately in the harsh life of rural Japan in the 1920s, where two sisters are sold off by their dying parents.

Just nine years old, Sayuri is treated like a slave and abused for years before starting the path to becoming a geisha.

While the profession is idolized, beautified and polished to an incredible shine throughout the film, you are basically talking about a young girl being raised to become a prostitute.

Much is made about breaking the record for the man that takes Sayuri's virginity. Will she break the $15,000 record?

Roger Ebert famously said that the fact that one is a prostitute is not based on the amount paid, but rather on the act of paying for sex. He found the film uncomfortable in that aspect and I have to agree.

Director Rob Marshall has created an incredible movie to look at. Dion Beebe (Edge of Tomorrow, Collateral) won the Oscar for his photography and the Art Direction and Costume Design also won Oscars.

It's a lot of shine on a sordid story.

The actors certainly do their part. Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is excellent as Sayuri, stunning, strong and resilient.

Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai) is terrific as The Chairman. His interactions with a very young Sayuri and the impact of that meeting on her life are powerful and well acted.

Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) is also very good as Mameha, who takes in the young girl and trains her for years toward her goal.

To be a high priced prostitute....?

The film takes a turn when WW2 descends on Japan and the film is better for it, losing some of its luster and finding a different side of the characters.

For as SLLLOOOOOWWWWW and long as the film is, the ending somehow feels a bit rushed, but by that time, I was frankly so glad it was over, it worked.

GEISHA is very beautiful, but very slow and emotionally empty. I'll give it a C.

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