The constant cutting between the two stories, and the inexplicable scrambling of chronology within the stories, also become annoying and impedes the ability of either story to really build emotionally.
The film features two of the least effective lead performances of the year, which keeps the audience from engaging in the story emotionally and just leaves them wondering how this book became a bestseller.
The film version of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" proceeds as if willed into being by a particularly misguided "question for discussion," the kind you'd find at the tail end of a bestseller's paperback edition.
Visually, the film is a treat with Richard Wong's cinematography equally evocative at capturing the pastoral beauty and slower rhythms of rural 19th century China and the urban splendor and bustle of today's Shanghai.
The juxtaposition of stories about women in old and new China may have been intended to widen the audience for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, but all it does is lose the heart and pathos of See's novel in a jumbled mess.