With Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, director Wayne Wang, maker of The Joy Luck Club, has come up with another generation-spanning tale of female friendship set in both China and the West. This one is based on the bestselling novel by Lisa See and stars Li Bingbing and Gianna Jun as two young girls in 19th-century China – one rich, the other poor – who become sworn sisters for life – a bond that finds an echo in the friendship of their descendants, two women living in the present day and played by the same actresses.
The men in the heroines’ lives, including Hugh Jackman’s nightclub owner and Russell Wong’s banker, largely remain on the sidelines, while the leads themselves appear more at ease, strangely, in the period setting than in the contemporary one. The cruelty of ancient foot-binding figures prominently in those earlier scenes, but what hobbles the film is the screenplay’s overly strenuous efforts to bind its parallel stories together.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 14th May by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.