Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, History  |  24 June 2011 (China)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.0/10 from 2,916 users   Metascore: 42/100
Reviews: 21 user | 55 critic | 31 from

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 »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Butter (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

In Iowa, an adopted girl discovers her talent for butter carving and finds herself pitted against an ambitious local woman in their town's annual contest.

Director: Jim Field Smith
Stars: Jennifer Garner, Yara Shahidi, Ty Burrell
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A girl named Jung-min writes to a young man named Hyun-jun, who is serving in the army. She lies about her age and claims to be a teacher. As Jung-min turns twenty, a 30-year-old man, who ... See full summary »

Director: Yun-ho Yang
Stars: Shin-yang Park, Ji-hyun Jun, Mu-song Jeon
Deception I (2008)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

An accountant is introduced to a mysterious sex club known as The List by his lawyer friend. But in this new world, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a woman's disappearance and a multi-million dollar heist.

Director: Marcel Langenegger
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, Michelle Williams
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Jack Willis is a handsome roadtrain driver with a secret - he has just become a top-selling romance novelist. However, being a 'man's man' in the Australian outlook, to avoid embarrassment,... See full summary »

Director: Antony J. Bowman
Stars: Claudia Karvan, Hugh Jackman, Angie Milliken
Uninvited (2003)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Jeong-won is a man with no memory of his childhood and his real family. At the beginning of the film he witnesses the deaths of two young girls. He begins seeing the girls dead bodies ... See full summary »

Director: Soo-youn Lee
Stars: Shin-yang Park, Ji-hyun Jun, Seon Yu
Oklahoma! (TV Movie 1999)
Musical | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Cowboy Curly McClain tries to win the heart of a girl in a singing and dancing extravaganza.

Director: Trevor Nunn
Stars: Maureen Lipman, Hugh Jackman, Josefina Gabrielle
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

The story of a pregnant Chinese girl's life in the U.S. Based on the the short story by Yiyun Li.

Director: Wayne Wang
Stars: Li Ling, Brian Danforth, Minghua Tan
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A snobbish producer makes a documentary about the extraordinary behavior of her neighbor who believes himself to be Superman.

Director: Yoon-Chul Chung
Stars: Jeong-min Hwang, Ji-hyun Jun, Gil-seung Bang
Australia (2008)
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Shea Adams
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The book is a collection of stories about life in modern China and the United States.

Director: Wayne Wang
Stars: Henry O, Pasha D. Lychnikoff, Feihong Yu
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Barky, 25, lost soul, left home two years ago to escape his abusive father leaving behind everything in the world that was important to him; now that his father's dead, he thinks it's safe to come home.

Director: Alan White
Stars: Marty Denniss, Hugh Jackman, Andrew Wholley
Uncle Jonny (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Director: Mark Constable
Stars: Tom Nunan, Mark Constable, Natasha Kyritsis


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?


Zhang Ziyi was originally cast as Nina before dropping out of the film. Li Bingbing signed on to replace her. 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

It's no secret.
20 July 2011 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

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 here.

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.

21 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Hugh Jackman? nickersonpower
So so early reviews lilianxiao0-829-516922
Jeon Ji-Hyun + Ziyi Zhang together? I'm in heaven! MichelleYeohFan
Cannes lilianxiao0-829-516922
Shanghai international film festival in June? lilianxiao0-829-516922
Subtitles? chulinnyc
Discuss Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: