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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011)

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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.

Director:

Wayne Wang

Writers:

Angela Workman (screenplay), Ronald Bass (screenplay) (as Ron Bass) | 2 more credits »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Russell Wong ... Bank CEO
Bingbing Li ... Nina / Lily
Archie Kao ... Sebastian
Ji-hyun Jun ... Snow Flower / Sophia (as Gianna Jun)
Coco Chiang ... Anna
Hu Qing Yun Hu Qing Yun ... Mrs. Liao
Shiping Cao Shiping Cao ... Mr. Wei (as Shi Ping Cao)
Ruijia Zhang Ruijia Zhang ... Mrs. Wei
Vivian Wu ... Aunt
Zhebing Gong Zhebing Gong ... Professor
Lilia Zhou Lilia Zhou ... Nurse
Congmeng Guo Congmeng Guo ... Little Lily
Danping Shen ... Lily's Mother
Yan Dai Yan Dai ... Little Snow Flower
Yulan Xu Yulan Xu ... Snow Flower's Mother
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

China | USA

Language:

English | Mandarin

Release Date:

24 June 2011 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Seidenfächer See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$134,005, 17 July 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,348,205, 29 September 2011

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,348,205, 29 September 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

IDG China Media See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lisa See was originally asked to write the screenplay but declined due to lack of experience on screnwriting. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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

It's no secret.
20 July 2011 | by jdesandoSee 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.


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