You want to know why reading is a much much better option than watching a movie based on one?
Watch Memoirs of a Geisha.
I guess the movie promotes a fascinating book, but too shay, behind all that glamour, glorious elegance, exquisite costumes and theatrical seasonal scenes, it's nothing more than a cheesy movie with a weak plot about girly cat fights and paedophile intentions.
And for those of you who didn't read the book and went to watch the movie, and actually thought it was good, you seriously don't know what you've missed... all those amazing details about living the life of a geisha, the intricate costumes described to the last minute thread of colour, the different unique hairstyles and traditions and the meanings behind them, the eccentricities of characters like the psychotic Dr. Crab and the obsessive Nobu, the warm exuberance of Chairman, the trying determination of Sayuri, the coldness and cruelty of the war. It's all these things that makes the backstabbings so painful. But the movie makes these major scenes lack the necessary depth and emotional quality they had.
Some parts were perfect though. For instance, little Chiyo destroying Mameha's kimono with hesitation and getting whipped for it, that required tension between Chiyo and Hatsumomo, the silliness and adorable behaviour of Pumpkin, and most especially, that assault that took place to Sayuri in the Baron's house- the highlight of the movie if you ask me. I did enjoy every splash of water and every leaf of autumn. Simply stunning scenery.
That aside, it's amusing to see Zhang Zi Yi lose her on-screen charismatic charm of quiet defiance and simultaneous paradoxical innocence she's so famous for displaying (check out Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon if you don't know what I mean) to veterans like Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh. Gong Li steals the show with her breathless agony and uncontrollable anger and ultimate self-destruction, while Yeoh easily and effortlessly slides into the role of a mentor with so much ease that it makes Zhang Zi Yi diminish in cinematic aura.
And it's ridiculous how the characters can come from the same bloody country when their English accents differ so drastically! Numo has this american accent, Michelle Yeoh has this american plus asian way of speaking English, while Zhang Zi Yi has obvious halting chinese accented English, whereas as a child she had a more confident and fluent speaking ability?! Oh and let's not forget they speak their greetings in Japanese before slipping back into terrible-to-the-ears English. WOW. I'm so damn convinced that this is the sacred world of Geisha in enchanting Japan. HAHA. What they should have done was have a uniformed language of all characters speaking either English or Japanese (with English subtitles included) to create a more realistic story.
It seems to me they emphasized on all the wrong things. But then again, maybe only Hollywood knows what viewers want and is just giving it to them for box office sales.
You want my advice?
Read the book.
Watch the movie if you want. But expect the expected.