Snow Flower And The Secret Fan
- Director:Wayne Wang
- Cast:Gianna Jun , Bingbing Li , Vivian Wu , Hugh Jackman
- Release Date:September 15, 2011
- Running time:120 minutes
- Film Worth:$11.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Despite strong performances and a rich premise, this is let down by its own self-importance and sentimentality.
There's a good story inside this film - actually two parallel tales - but Snow Flower And The Secret Fan is dragged down by its own self-importance and forced poignancy (make that ‘poignancy'). Directed with a heavy hand by Wayne Wang, it shifts between 19th century China and present day Shanghai, with the two lead actresses each playing dual roles.
Both Gianna Jun (as Snow Flower/Sophia) and Bingbing Li (Lily/Nina) are splendid, and the plot is interesting if not involving. It's a about the bonds between women and the beautiful ancient tradition of laotong - sisters by contract, a kind of pledge to be lifelong platonic soul-mates. The story from the old world starts with two little girls who have their feet bound on the same day (these harrowing scenes are the best in the film), and it traces their relationship through to marriage, and later, hardship.
Over in today's Shanghai, a different story unfolds, where a rift exists between the two modern women. Sophia lies in a hospital bed, while her laotong, Nina, tries to piece together the recent past.
Based on the novel by Lisa See, there are admirable flourishes (plus the added bonus of Hugh Jackman in a small role), and the final scenes almost wrap up the film on an impressive note, but then it's marred by the too long gaze by a central character, looking off into the distance. ‘Poignancy' again.
Wang's Joy Luck Club from 1993 is excellent, as is his 1995 indie offering Smoke. Snow Flower And The Secret Fan is a disappointment from an experienced filmmaker working with rich material. It's not that Wang hasn't tried, it's that he's tried too hard. An American/Chinese co-production, this looks good but there's zero ambience - it may as well have come directly from the cookie-cutters in Hollywood.