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
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 »
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.
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Great movie about the laotong: a life- long relationship between women friends.
One of the key discoveries in my life is that for me and for many of my women friends, our friendship is often the most wonderful gift of life. This movie celebrates friendship among women. It relates two stories of women in China whose friendship is signed as a contract, a laotong. Laotong, the movie explains, is a life-long relationship between women, often considered more important than marriage. The movie presents two young friends in Shanghai in the 21st century who celebrate a laotong. Their friendship is portrayed with the closeness, empathy and support that is well known about friendship among women. And it also presents the difficulties and distances that are very real and perhaps unavoidable in close relationships. In a similar way, the movie presents two 19th century women who had had a laotong in very different circumstances and for whom the friendship is also both a marvelous gift and a difficult relationship. Movies are often about relations between a man and a women but seldom about women friends. That is why this movie seems to be controversial. It is not always accepted that for women their women friends are their most rewarding relationships despite the complicated faces of any human partnership. Go see the movie. It shows a side of women's life that is amazingly real but poorly understood.
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