Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: 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.(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 31
  2. Negative: 7 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Jul 13, 2011
    So strong are the emotions - and, yes, the melodrama - that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan represents one of Wang's best films to date.
  2. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Jul 21, 2011
    The connection between the two time frames and stories (the contemporary one with the addition of screenwriters) is flimsy as a frayed rope bridge, forced as the stepsister's foot into Cinderella's glass slipper.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jul 14, 2011
    To invoke Pauline Kael's review of Diane Kurys's "Entre Nous," it's about two women not having a lesbian affair.
  4. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Jul 12, 2011
    As the parallel friendships evolve over time, both push and pull between platonic and erotic; it's to the film's credit that it never definitively suggests that love can only be one or the other.
  5. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jul 14, 2011
    There are enough decent moments in "Snow Flower" that you can at times see the remains of a better movie amid the jolting transitions between past and present, but these eras never really speak to each other, much less to you.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 15, 2011
    Unfortunately, its present-day tale, involving a career woman seeking to mend her 20-year bond with a girlfriend injured in an accident, is lax and clunky, and its story-within-a-story - a tale of two laotong, or soul sisters, in oppressive mid-1800s China - is gorgeous but simplistic.
  7. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jul 14, 2011
    This latest from director Wayne Wang, about the friendship of two young women, travels from 2011 to 1997 to 1829 to 1838, in search of a reason for the audience to keep watching and start caring. That reason is never found.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Aug 6, 2011
    This is a terrific film, but guys won't get it. At all. Touching, moving, powerful, subtle. A story about women, especially those who have a deep, lifelong relationship with another woman whom they love as a close sister.

    Except for one or two minor characters, the male figures in this story do not generally show men in a good light.

    Women understand that you can learn more truth from the look on someone's face than you can from the words they speak, and that is used often here.

    If they'd added a few car chases, some gunfire and explosions, then guys would enjoy it. Until then, it's wasted on most of them. See it on the big screen before it's gone.
  2. Jul 23, 2011
    Something about the lead actresses just worked for me. I like the theme of friendship being as important if not more important than traditional blood relationships in many circumstances. It's great seeing women stick together in the historical context. Expand
  3. Jan 22, 2012
    The theme of the film is very beautiful - lifelong, committed and loving friendship. While the theme is good, the execution of the film is not quite the best. The setting is the parallel stories of two female friends in China - one pair in the 1830s and 40s, and the other pair in modern day Hong Kong. While it's nice that the story was laid out that way (I'm assuming that's how it was written in the book), it just did not translate very well in the film. The 19th century story was very moving and much more interesting than the modern day one. The modern day one just seemed to twist and change for the sake of it, and for the sake of making the 19th century one more interesting and beautiful. I was expecting more from the production design also, which may be the fault of the so-far popular Chinese films with impressive production design, costumes and effects. Snow Flower, however, is not quite up to par with those films, but still holds its ground, I guess. One of the two leads was excellent, Bingbing Li, who performed beautifully throughout the film. The story and idea behind the film are the highlights of it, but as I said, only one half was necessary. Something like Julie/Julia, but not even quite as good as that (not to say that Julie/Julia was that good). Nonetheless, worth the time to watch. Expand