As you can see from the trailer, this film has gorgeous cinematography, hyper coloured and costumes that are just amazing. Its a real visual treat for the eyes, and worth watching for that alone!
Set during the Edo period, the story follows Kiyoha as she rises through the ranks of a Geisha house always wanting to be her own person and not the property of another. Anna Tsuchiya seems to relish the role and is fast becoming one of my favourite actresses for the type of roles she selects. Naturally I was selecting the film for the small role Narimiya Hiroki was cast in, as that of Kiyoha’s first love/infatuation, but its usually choices like that that lead me into a wider variety of film, as he chooses interesting roles and characters.
There has been some negative remarks on various reviews that the film is all visual and no substance and that the director didn’t focus well enough on the story or character development. I would agree it can seem patchy in places, but as the story is based on a Manga – by Moyoco Anno – it can be a little difficult to select exactly what is or is not essential, especially for a first time director.Mika Ninagawa is first and foremost a photographer, something that is very clear in the film presentation, but she also specialises in flowers and gold fish, providing two of the main motif in the film.
One of the main motif’s in the film is the Cherry Blossom – Sakura – from which the film gets it name. Transience of life, new beginnings, female sexual power and hope are the feelings behind this tiny blossom, in Manga there is also the added layer of meaning that it represents innocence and falling petals its loss. Goldfish are the next motif – the gold ones representing prosperity and wealth and the red and white that can represent power and career advancement or a loving relationship, depending on the markers. These appear at relevant points and provide a nice subtle subtext to the action and emotion.
It is a fantasy of Geisha and Oisen – the hyper real colours and the manner in which some of the characters act pertain to that, but nevertheless its a stunning film and worth spending a bit of time with.