Snow Flower And The Secret Fan - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 8, 2011
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....
Tired of Previews
Super Reviewer
½ August 9, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2012
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
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2013
On the eve of Sebastian(Archie Kao) and Nina(Bingbing Li) moving to New York for work, Nina receives news that Sophia(Gianna Jun), an old friend she had met as a teenager when she tutored her in Chinese, is in a coma from being hit by a car on her bicycle. Nina is surprised when told that Sophia was trying to call her shortly before her accident since they had not talked in so long. That's nothing compared to discovering the manuscript Sophia had written about a friendship between two girls in rural China in 1829.

The well-produced "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" has certain things also going for it in its rare thoughtful exploration of the friendship between two women, coupled with how China has a problematic relationship with its past, with a focus on the barbaric practice of foot binding which here is sort of fetishized. That having been said, the movie would have been much improved concentrating on just one time period, not three, instead making this feel like mainly just the highlights of a pretty good television series, complete with special guest star.
Super Reviewer
½ December 12, 2011
With a name like "Snow Flower And The Secret Fan," I just had to see this movie! I'm very glad I did. I'm surprised 80% of critics didn't like it. I seemed to me like one of those movies the general public wouldn't go crazy for for but the critics would fawn over like a precious gem. It almost always seems like if a movie is really great to the public, the critics won't like it and vice versa unless it's a classic like Toy Story or something. I'm not really surprised only 40% of the viewers liked it because people don't know a good movie when they see one these days. However, I, who pride myself in being a good judge of quality, REALLY liked this one. I can't compare it to the book because I never read it so I'm not partial.

It was magical in its color and music and emotion. There were a few times I cringed or gasped and at least two times I was deeply moved by sadness or love. I disagree with anyone who says this movie didn't pull on the heartstrings. I do agree with the people here who said they should have focused more on the story of Snow Flower and Lily and not so much on the parallel narrative. Still, it was a compelling story and beautifully filmed.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2011
Only four people on Tuesday afternoon in Xi'an cinema wasn't a good sign for heavily advertised movie in China. I am glad that wasn't a sign of anything else than rainy day... This very philosophical Chinese movie is based on the 2005 novel by Lisa See and directed by the Hong Kong-born filmmaker Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club). Snow Flower and the Secret Fan boast a strong ensemble cast, including the Chinese actress Li Bingbing, South Korea's Jeon Ji-Hyun, and Hugh Jackman. The film was jointly produced by Wendi Murdoch, wife of Rupert Murdoch, and Florence Low Sloan.

This multi levelled story of female friendship (or something a little bit more) takes us through the ages, beginning in 19th century China, where seven-year-old girls Snow Flower and Lily bind themselves together for eternity as laotong, or "old sames". Isolated by their families, the girls communicate by taking turns writing in a secret language, Nü Shu, between the folds of a white silk fan. In the modern story set in present-day Shanghai, Snow Flower and Lili's descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain their close friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated relationships, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai.

This movie is a real revelation exposing to the audience the nearly forgotten codes of conduct imposed upon women in imperial China, as well as abandoned traditions such as foot binding. Showing us and contrasting the pressures of life for women in ancient and modern China, as well as their commonalities, the film shows that while times are always changing, friendship can be taken as a historical constant.

Well-made movie for real lovers of history and well written story with excellent camera work!
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2011
Depicted from the Lisa See book, this film beautifully reflects the lives and sacred bond between two best friends who are closer than sisters. Wayne Wang remarkably captures the significance in storytelling through this film in the portrayals of Snow Flower and Lily in comparison with Sophia and Nina. Gianna Jun and Bingbing Li both are phenomenally stunning in their representation of dual characters. Always great to see the beautiful Vivian Wu in films, her character portrayal reflects her immense talent in the craft.
Definitely worthy!
Definitely hope to see more Lisa See books made into films.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2011
'Snow Flower And The Secret Fan' (2011) is a delightful and gentle art house film. It expresses the true love in friendship.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2011
Why do movies have to ruin books? The whole parallel storyline should have been left out. If this film had stayed truer to the book and delved more into the characters of Snow Flower and Lily, I think it would have been much better.
½ July 6, 2011
As a fan of the book I thought the modern twist was appalling. Nina and Sophia were not even in the book and had no part in the story. I didn't like how they showed Lily and Snow Flower in flash back form. They cut out a lot of crucial scenes, and sped up others. Especially the scenes that were more 'intimate' between the two. You could see the longing in some scenes, but not enough to truly grasp the depth of these two.
April 1, 2012
A good movie. Slow but emotionally sensitive and sensible. Solid female leads in search of a fascinating journey for friendship and love.
½ July 25, 2011
the director's/script's addition of the modern day Snow Flower/Lily as the real main characters' progeny really was unnecessary and very distracting. Needless to say, the book was better. The movie sucked at translating differences in cultural values that say the Joy Luck Club did brilliantly. And speaking of Joy Luck Club, Russel Wong was in this movie. It seemed like they were trying too hard to make this into another Joy Luck Club. Lisa See is a very adept author, we don't need to add parts of Amy Tan to make her best selling book more viable as a movie!
½ December 18, 2011
Misled by the hopes of a beautiful cinematography effort, Snow Flower falls flat with major lack of emotion.The film ends in average time but feels like forever.
½ July 14, 2011
I really wanted to like this movie..but as alot of reviews have said..the emotional side just didn't tug at me when it probably should have. I didn't get a chance to read the novel first, but am guessing much of the story was left out. The panning back and forth between time periods seemed inconsistent and jagged at times that made the story confusing. Hugh Jackman had a small part....wish IT had been more!!!
½ September 19, 2015
The novel by Lisa See was beautiful, deep. It really transports the reader to 19th century China.
The film was choppy, vague, and confusing. Attempting to weave another, modern, story-line in with the original story took away time that could have been used for character and story development. You don't get to know the two main characters or the close nature of their relationship, which is the entire theme of the film. You don't get an idea of what life in 19th century China might have looked like. It left me disappointed and had I not read the book, I don't think I would have understood what the film was about at all.
August 21, 2015
Beautiful story, but the way it's directed and edited grates. Also not helped by poor English closed captions for the deaf on Netflix, rather than just for translation purposes.
August 7, 2015
I do not understand the hate coming from the critics about this movie. I really enjoyed watching it.

It was beautifully shot with great cinematography. Heart-wrenching tale complemented by good acting and fitting soundtrack. Very tragic but with a happy ending.
June 27, 2015
A good movie for those with the concentration to watch epic dramas. I loved it, in the vein of white swan.
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