A story set in 19th century China and centered on the lifelong friendship between two girls who develop their own secret code as a way to contend with the rigid cultural norms imposed on women.
Release Year: 2011
Rating: 5.6/10 (1,049 voted)
Critic's Score: 42/100
Stars: Bingbing Li, Gianna Jun, Vivian Wu
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.
Writers: Angela Workman, Ronald Bass
Hu Qing Yun
Shi Ping Cao
Little Snow Flower
Snow Flower's Mother
Official site |
Release Date: 3 Jan 2011
Filming Locations: Hengdian World Studios, Heng Dian, China
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $134,005
(17 July 2011)
(29 September 2011)
Did You Know?
Rupert Murdoch personally asked Fox Searchlight to release this film in North America.
The world is always changing. Every day it's changing. Everything in life is changing. We have to look inside ourselves to find what stays the same, such as loyalty, our shared history and love for each other. In them, the truth of the past lives on.
It's no secret.
Sunflower and the Secret Fan is the poignant tale of two 21st century
Asian girls and their matches in the 19th century: Both couples are
bound by the dictates of a patriarchal culture that challenges the
natural love and devotion they feel for each other. These lady laotongs
or "old sames" take an oath to make them faithful sisters forever, the
outward show of an enduring, lifelong commitment to their sisterhood.
Director Wayne Wang's challenge is to intercut the centuries and women
without confusing the audience, a virtue not always achieved in two
hours of traversing between times. His limited success can be
attributed to the striking skyline of modern Shanghai, an apt metaphor
for the change in the ladies' lives, indeed for change itself.
Just as arresting as the visual images is the stringed music of Rachel
Portman, which dictates emotions as strongly as any other score I have
heard this year. Some might complain of manipulation; I enjoy the
excess as if it were an ancient Chinese fan of innumerable design. BTW,
the titular fan was used by the 19th century ladies to make messages to
each other in their special language. Wang's considerable success
showing devoted friends in Joy Luck Club is evidenced in the ladies
The bonding of protagonists is strong on the surface, but because there
is so much to do in only 2 hours, we never have sustained conversation
among them to verify what we intuit without much dialogue. It would be
sweet to linger more with them while they show through dialogue the
bond that makes them sacrifice for each other throughout their lives.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in the end turns on love, its many forms
and demands and on change, which frequently derails the best intentions
of love itself. The ladies here evidence in delicate ways the tumult
and reward accompanying a lifelong commitment to another human being.
And that's no secret.