Memoirs of a Geisha received mixed reviews from western critics. Illinois' Daily Herald said that the "[s]trong acting, meticulously created sets, beautiful visuals, and a compelling story of a celebrity who can't have the one thing she really wants make Geisha memorable".  The Washington Times called the film "a sumptuously faithful and evocative adaption" while adding that "[c]ontrasting dialects may remain a minor nuisance for some spectators, but the movie can presumably count on the pictorial curiosity of readers who enjoyed Mr. Golden's sense of immersion, both harrowing and [a]esthetic, in the culture of a geisha upbringing in the years that culminated in World War II". 
She also keeps a well-run establishment, populated by hookers like Violet's mother Hattie ( Susan Sarandon ), who dreams of escaping from the life and eventually succeeds: She marries a prosperous businessman from St. Louis, and moves north. She wants to take her daughter with her, but Violet won't go: For her, this house is a home. Violet has in the meantime gained a protector and confidant: Bellocq ( Keith Carradine ), the silent, eccentric photographer. He seems at first to feel no passion at all, as he takes his infinite pains to arrange the lights and shadows in which he poses the prostitutes. There is, we feel, the possibility that he's asexual.