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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, History  |  24 June 2011 (China)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 2,891 users   Metascore: 42/100
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A story set in nineteenth-century China and focusing on the life-long friendship between two girls who develop their own secret code as a way to contend with the rigid social norms imposed on women.



(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Ron Bass) , 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bank CEO
Nina / Lily
Snow Flower / Sophia (as Gianna Jun)
Coco Chiang ...
Hu Qing Yun ...
Mrs. Liao
Shiping Cao ...
Mr. Wei (as Shi Ping Cao)
Ruijia Zhang ...
Mrs. Wei
Zhebing Gong ...
Lilia Zhou ...
Congmeng Guo ...
Little Lily
Danping Shen ...
Lily's Mother
Yan Dai ...
Little Snow Flower
Yulan Xu ...
Snow Flower's Mother


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. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence/disturbing images and drug use | See all certifications »


Official Sites:





Release Date:

24 June 2011 (China)  »

Also Known As:

Der Seidenfächer  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$134,005 (USA) (15 July 2011)


$1,346,503 (USA) (23 September 2011)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Rupert Murdoch personally asked Fox Searchlight to release this film in North America. See more »


The last paragraphs of the unsent letter that Nina found in Sophias apartment, which can be seen when she closes the notebook, don't match Nina's voice-over. See more »


[first lines]
Bank CEO: People say I'm sending Sebastian and Nina to New york so neither will take my job. Hey, perhaps that's partly true. You know, like these butterflies that surround us this evening, it's a time of transformation, new beginnings.
See more »

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User Reviews

Beautiful to watch but slightly tedious
5 April 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a well cast and nicely filmed but uneven movie. The 2 leads Li Bing Bing and Gianna Jun are lovely in different ways. Only Asian actresses could play the same characters as teens and in their 30s convincingly.

The story concerns two pairs of best girl friends, one set in present day and one pair set in the mid 1800s in China. The modern story is a bit less interesting than the modern one. The 1800s story has bound feet (ouch), civil war and rural poverty. The modern story is about career and love with a foreigner (an unintentionally hilarious Hugh Jackman - that song!).

The changes between the 2 stories are a bit too frequent. It isn't confusing about who is who but it just breaks up and jumbles the narrative a little too much.

The movie is a bit long and maudlin. With too many lingering sad looks. Feel like shouting Hurry Up sometimes! That is the old fashioned Chinese soap opera part of it.

Overall worth one watch.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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