Review: SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN Is A Chick Flick That I Like

Contributing Writer; Sydney, Australia (@HugoOzman)
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Review: SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN Is A Chick Flick That I Like
It takes a real man to admit to watching and enjoying a chick flick, and therefore I am here to declare that I watched and enjoyed the latest film by director Wayne Wang, SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. It is a beautiful film, and its beauty lies in both the stories it tells and the way it looks. 

SNOW FLOWER is a film about friendship and sisterly love between two pairs of girls, one living in 19th century China and another in modern day Shanghai. The stories are told in parallel and the frequent jumps in the narrative between the two stories, almost certainly with the aim of highlighting the similarities in the struggles faced by women and the strength in the relationships between them despite changes in the society they are living in, are sadly more often distracting than effective. 

Chinese actress Li Bingbing and Korean actress Gianna Yun each play two characters. Li really shines in both roles, while Yun is less impressive, probably limited by her role and also the need to deliver her dialogues in Mandarin and English. Hugh Jackman also makes an appearance but his role is really too small for him to impress, except perhaps for his efforts in singing a Mandarin song.  

One thing that really impresses me about the film is how gorgeous it looks. It is simply a pleasure to look at, thanks to the brilliant use of contrasting colours and lightings, together with some wonderful camera work by cinematographer Richard Wong. Also, Rachel Portman's melancholy music score complements the visuals well. 

SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN is an enjoyable film. The period story offers a nice contrast to the contemporary one, but the unnecessarily convoluted storytelling does weaken the overall emotional impact of the film. It is nevertheless a beautiful and elegant film, and female audiences in particular will love it. 

SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Pinnacle Films, and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from April. 

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Wayne WangAngela WorkmanRonald BassMichael RayLisa SeeRussell WongBingbing LiArchie KaoJi-hyun JunDramaHistory

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Niels MatthijsFebruary 9, 2012 10:38 AM

A fine film indeed, though I couldn't help but feel this film was somehow more about connecting Eastern and Western audiences. A classical Chinese soundtrack written by a Western composer, the somewhat poorly written character of Jackman ... at times it felt more like an attempt to get Western audiences interested in Easters films. Apart from that, the film definitely has its moments.

QinlongFebruary 9, 2012 10:43 AM

Too bad it went unnoticed, Li Bing Bing deserves a break on an international level. I doubt a supporting role in RE:5 will really give her that.

Sean "The Butcher" SmithsonFebruary 9, 2012 11:32 AM

Wayne Wang's adaptation of Amy Tan's THE JOY LUCK CLUB was amazing, and remains one of my favorite movies ever (a fact I love beating my horror audience over the head with hahaha).

I grew up in the bay area, a white kid hanging out in a lot of first generation Asian homes, and man oh man does that movie nail it.

Can't wait to watch SNOW FLOWER now.

Hugo OzmanFebruary 9, 2012 9:45 PM

Thanks, Niels. Come to think of it, you're probably right. It's not a bad thing though, I guess, cos' there are so many gems in Asian cinema that are literally unheard of in the Western world and waiting to be discovered by Western audiences.

Hugo OzmanFebruary 9, 2012 9:47 PM

Thank you, Qinlong. I agree: RE 5 will not give Li the big break she truly deserves.

Hugo OzmanFebruary 9, 2012 9:51 PM

Thanks, Sean. SNOW FLOWER is perhaps not as accomplished as JOY LUCK CLUB, but as Niels said, it is still damn fine. Hope you'll enjoy it!