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Mika Ninagawa's lavishly produced, broadly-scaled period epic Sakuran unfurls in 18th century Edo, the embryonic fishing village that in later years blossomed into the Japanese metropolis of Tokyo. Anna Tsuchiya stars as Kiyoha, a social-climbing courtesan who inhabits and works in a bordello of the exclusive Yoshiwara district. Exceptionally particular regarding her customers/bedmates, Kiyoha seeks liberation from the lifestyle and career that have ensconced her - but refuses to accept such emancipation at the hands of a rich man's purchase. Deliberately, yet with great assurance and… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The characters are likeable but thin and, despite a few raw, persuasive scenes, the script feels emotionally stunted."
‑ Tom Huddlestone, Time Out
"If it is all a little like an arty novelette, there's no doubt it is a feast for the eye."
‑ Derek Malcolm, This is London
"As the story progresses, it settles into something more traditionally sorrowful, but not before it has delivered a blast of energy."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"Loud and lurid, this dazzlingly picturesque peek through the courtesans' fishbowl embraces the very cosmetic illusions that it also exposes in a world of exploited women."
‑ Anton Bitel, Film4
"So full of attitude that it fairly leaps off the screen with claws bared"
‑ Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
"But Ninagawa's obsession with image-making saps the story until the movie, like its heroine, is merely handsomely mounted."
‑ Kate Stables, Total Film
"The pop star Anna Tsuchiya is duly fetching as the young upstart, but not fetching enough to prop up a cast-iron potboiler."
‑ James Christopher, Times [UK]
"In short, Sakuran is an enjoyable, superbly directed and impressively acted drama that gives a delicious manga-slash-J-pop twist to the geisha story. Worth seeking out."
‑ Matthew Turner, ViewLondon
"Ninagawa, like Sophia Coppola in Marie Antoinette, brings to a traditional story a keen compositional flair and a love of bright colours, as well as deploying a lively, jazzy soundtrack."
‑ Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph
"The staging is sumptuous but the imagery is static and the anachronistic score is a major irritant."
‑ Patrick Peters, Empire Magazine
More reviews for Sakuran on Rotten Tomatoes