Snow Flower And The Secret Fan (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In 19th-century China, seven year old girls Snow Flower and Lily are matched as laotong - or "old sames" - bound together for eternity. Isolated by their families, they furtively communicate by taking turns writing in a secret language, nu shu, between the folds of a white silk fan. In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong's descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, … More

Rating: PG-13 (for sexuality, violence/disturbing images and drug use)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Lisa See, Michael Ray, Angela Workman, Ronald Bass
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 1, 2011
Box Office: $1.3M
Fox Searchlight - Official Site


as Snow Flower/Sophia

as Nina/Lily

as Nina/Lily

as Aunt

as Butcher

as Bank CEO

as Mrs. Liao

as Sebastian

as Mr. Wei

as Mrs. Wei

as Professor

as Little Lily

as Lily's Mother

as Lily's Mother

as Little Snow Flower

as Snow Flower's Mother

as Foot Binder

as Foot Binder

as Lily's Father

as Madame Wang

as Da Lang

as Master Lu

as Lady Lu

as Claire

as Yong Gang

as Mr. Liao

as TV News Anchor

as Gao Kao Official

as Butcher's Mother

as Bartender

as Lotus

as Cousin Yan's Mother

as Landlady

as Bathhouse Clerk

as Spring Moon (15 year...

as Snow Flower/Sophia D...

as Gao Kao Official

as Yong Gang
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Snow Flower And The Secret Fan

All Critics (88) | Top Critics (32)

An ever-so-tasteful, watered-down and unnecessarily-improved-upon adaptation of Lisa See's bestselling 2005 novel of the same name.

Full Review… | October 7, 2011
Top Critic

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a delicate, if sometimes disturbing, portrait of the enduring relationships that bond women together, out in theaters now.

Full Review… | February 28, 2013
We Got This Covered

Despite the unevenness, the sincerity of the work shines through.

Full Review… | February 1, 2012

It's a well shot film with beautiful cinematography, though it does feel a bit too constrained at times. But as beautiful as it was, the story and characters failed to grab me

Full Review… | January 22, 2012
7M Pictures

Were it not for the slow pacing and the obviousness of message, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan would have been successful.

Full Review… | December 29, 2011
Movie Metropolis

Although it looks fantastic, it barely registers on an emotional level because it feels so dull and manipulative.

Full Review… | November 16, 2011

Audience Reviews for Snow Flower And The Secret Fan


I read the book a long time ago, but I still remember bits and pieces. This story nicely depicts that book, in my opinion. No movie can EVER completely follow a book, nor should it. These are different interpretations of a story. This movie was very well done, moving, and beautiful. I greatly enjoyed the parallels made with the modern world, and the ancient. This movie does not need to be compared to the book. It stands quite well enough on its own....

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


Directed by Wayne Wang, IDG China Media & Fox Searchlight Productions, 2011. Starring Bingbing Li, Gianna Jun and Hugh Jackman.

Genre: Drama, History

Question: Do you share a lifelong friendship with someone - a friendship that makes your life better, helps you through the dark times and shares the good times? Beaches showed a lifelong bond between two women and it told a nice tale, however, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan just wiped Beaches away with one flick of the fan. This may have been one of the greatest friendships stories I have ever witnessed on film. Lovely, just lovely.

We have all had friendships when we were little, some even lasting into our early adulthood or beyond. You are lucky if you find a friendship like that. I had a friend when I was young and I loved her like a sister. Unfortunately, that friendship ended.. A few years later I tried again with another when I got to high school. In fact, I even saw Beaches with my "best friend", which is what you did when it came out in 1988. We laughed together and we cried together and said "That was so us." However, she ended the friendship a few years later and I have had difficulty ever since trusting others.

So, I am always leery to see anything about a strong friendship between two women, but I am trying to expand my movie genres and decided upon Snow Flower and the Secret Fan since it was a foreign film. I hadn't reviewed a foreign film yet. I am happy to say I am glad I put my personal concerns aside.

There are two stories told within this movie about a friendship between two women: one in modern-day China and one in 19th century China. Each story mirrors the other when trying to describe the love these two women had for each other. Both stories used the same actresses to tell the tales: Lily/Nina, (Bingbing Li)and Snow Flower/Sophia (Gianna Jun).

In modern-day China, the girls are school friends. One helps the other learn better mandarin since she is Korean. They are inseparable despite the disapproval of Sophia's stepmother. However, her aunt knows of their strong friendship and tells them the story of the laotong girls or "old sames". This is an ancient way of how girls were bound together for eternity in friendship. These friendships were necessary due to the horrific obligatory life they had with men. It was an ultimate support system.

Something happens to one of the modern girls and then the ancient story starts about Snow Flower and Lily - another pair of laotong girls. Their story paralleled the modern one and wove in and out seamlessly.

Their story started in 19th century China as little girls (age 7) both had their feet bound on the same day. Yes, this was something they used to do to make sure their feet wouldn't grow. Their feet were not supposed get bigger than a few inches - in their world that was "perfection". This was to insure them worthy enough for a man. There were a few scenes about this torturous method that were very hard to watch.

However, the young girls were then made to live together and then sworn to each other as laotong girls. This made them very happy. Then they learned a secret language to help them communicate where men could not see. This would be written on fans and passed back and forth as they grew up, married off and tried to have sons - since they weren't considered fit wives or decent women if they had only girls.

I will admit the ancient story of the bound feet, the abuse they had to endure, the control men had over women, and something that everyone went along with, had me sick to my stomach. There was even one scene, although most of it was only heard, had me in tears with certain amount of anger only because I know things like that happened and still can happen today. However, the next scene was between Snow Flower and Lily and I think I cried even harder. Not a word spoken by either of them but the love, the kindness, the friendship portrayed was breathtaking.

I have not revealed much of the plot with this review - just a few facts and some parts that made a powerful impact on me. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was a beautiful movie about a friendship that will last 10,000 years. To witness something like that on film was a gift. I hope you get a chance to see this film; and I hope you are fortunate to see it with your best friend.

My favorite thing: The scene I mentioned earlier with Snow Flower and Lily.

My least favorite thing: Witnessing the control and abuse women had to endure.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Lisa See.

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Super Reviewer

For Me to review this film isn't fair as its an Asian chick flick, so my rating would be much lower then most females. It is a interesting story about two girls who both modern day and very far back in the past who are morally bound to each other. Lacks the detail of costume that I've grown accustomed to and find enjoyable in Asian Film Making, seem to have a bit of American influence in this one. 3 Stars

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan Quotes

– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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