In Golden's richly detailed novel, you learned about the intricate training geishas undergo to become, literally, living works of art. But that's what is lacking in this movie. It only briefly delves into the arcane rituals of "geishahood." For those unfortunate ones who were not able to read the book, the movie would indeed be lacking in most aspects when one wants to understand what it is like to become a geisha.
Let's not forget about the love story. The heroine's knight in shining armor happens to be called Chairman. They met a long time ago when a little Chiyo was sobbing on a footbridge. Prince Charming stopped and offered her some sweets. From then on, Chiyo/Sayuri "loved" the Chairman. But please let's not go there!
It is disappointing because instead of meaning and depth, the movie gave us kimonos, cherry petals and snowflakes as eye candies and nothing more. They failed to convey what was so special about the fragile world of the geisha. It was more fun reading (as always) about how Mameha and Sayuri always outwitting Hatsumomo and Pumpkin throughout the story.
The part I liked the most in the movie was Sayuri's dance in preparation for her mizuage bidding. Yes, a meiko's virginity is highly important and can be auctioned off and be given to the highest bidder. Below is a picture of Sayuri's "moving" dance which caught and impressed everyone (even Hatsumomo).
As the story progressed, in comes the problem -World War II which affected everyone in Japan. Nobody was safe and special contacts were needed in order to survive. Nobu (a wealthy man in love with Sayuri) was the one who saved her from peril and found a place where she can stay until the war was over.
After the war, as people were starting to pick up the pieces again, the geishas resumed their positions once more - beside their men. Sayuri eventually ended up with her beloved Chairman after Nobu decided that he would no longer pursue his love for Sayuri. Again, please let's not dwell on the love story part.All in all, I have always liked the book Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. It is in fact one of my many favorites. This movie however did not give justice to it. In the movie, you always have something to look at — whether its Sayuri's exquisitely painted face or the perfect twirl of a gorgeously flowered umbrella. But the storytelling is soap-opera banal.