Box art for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

drama, foreign

From the director of The Joy Luck Club, and based on the best-selling novel, comes a timeless portrait of female friendship.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 14
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Disappointing literary adaptation has some heavy themes.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book-based drama set in both present-day and 19th-century China explores complicated but sustaining friendships among women. In some ways, it's an uplifting tale that teens might find interesting, but the storytelling is uneven, and some themes/plot lines -- opium addiction, persecution, pervasive repression of women -- may be too intense for younger viewers. There's some drinking and period-accurate substance abuse; one scene of a married couple having sex shows a man atop a woman, with his naked back visible.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts repressive practices like foot binding. How did it affect women in China? What repercussions did it have? What does the movie say about the treatment of women, both in the past and today?
  • What does the movie say about female friendships? How do they compare to romantic relationships?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: In this lavish adaptation of Lisa See's novel, the complex chronologies of the parallel narratives are skillfully handled by director Wayne Wang, which makes his reliance on unbridled sentimentality all the more irritating.

- Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader, Friday, July 29, 2011

Rotten: You're advised to bring a hankie or two should you venture forth to see the tearjerker "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan."

- V.A. Musetto, New York Post, Friday, July 15, 2011

Audience Reviews

2 stars

the director's/script's addition of the modern day Snow Flower/Lily as the real main characters' progeny really was unnecessary and very distracting. Needless to say, the book was better. The movie sucked at translating differences in cultural values that say the Joy Luck Club did brilliantly. And speaking of Joy Luck Club, Russel Wong was in this movie. It seemed like they were trying too hard to make this into another Joy Luck Club. Lisa See is a very adept author, we don't need to add parts of Amy Tan to make her best selling book more viable as a movie!

- fb645492669, Monday, January 16, 2012

3 stars

Didn't enjoy the parallel storyline much. The book had no flip-flops between past and present. They should've kept to the book more, because I feel a lot of the significant details in the book were left out, basically changing the feel to something different and not nearly as historically interesting and spiritually deep as the book was. The movie version just didn't invoke the same emotion I felt in the book version, but I think because I'd already read the book, I understood the overall feel the filmmakers were attempting to convey. Therefore I wouldn't recommend this to someone who hasn't read the book.

- weltlichgesinnt, Sunday, November 20, 2011

5 stars

Depicted from the Lisa See book, this film beautifully reflects the lives and sacred bond between two best friends who are closer than sisters. Wayne Wang remarkably captures the significance in storytelling through this film in the portrayals of Snow Flower and Lily in comparison with Sophia and Nina. Gianna Jun and Bingbing Li both are phenomenally stunning in their representation of dual characters. Always great to see the beautiful Vivian Wu in films, her character portrayal reflects her immense talent in the craft. Definitely worthy! Definitely hope to see more Lisa See books made into films.

- iLeo, Thursday, February 14, 2013