Inspired by the bestselling novel SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN by Lisa See, the film is a timeless portrait of female friendship. 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, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai. Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever. What unfolds are two stories, generations apart, but everlasting in their universal notion of love, hope and friendship.
- Wayne Wang
- Ron Bass, Angela Workman, Michael Ray
Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
Emphasizes melodrama over character development, until the proceedings feel like a rabbit hole of misfortune.Stephanie Merry, Washington Post, 07.21.2011
In this lavish adaptation of Lisa See's novel, the complex chronologies of the parallel narratives are skillfully handled by director Wayne Wang, which makes his reliance on unbridled sentimentality all the more irritating.Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader, 07.29.2011
A story of much visual grace and, sadly, considerable narrative awkwardness.Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer, 07.21.2011
All the two actresses do is gaze out of apartment and carriage windows, through floorboards, into each other's eyes, and, once, while wishfully wearing a man's suit.Wesley Morris, Boston Globe, 07.21.2011