I had a chance to see a VIP screening of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, directed by Wayne Wang and based on Lisa See’s bestselling novel and while an official review by Edward will be up later this week– in Edward’s words– “this is not Joy Luck Club 2, as some people have feared.”
The movie is based on a novel by New York Times bestselling author Lisa See and directed by Wayne Wang (Dino’s got an interview with the director
coming soon!), who has directed over 20 movies including The Joy Luck Club and Last Holiday, and is billed as “a timeless portrait of female friendship.” Lisa See spent most of her formative years in L.A.’s Chinatown. Her family’s history was the basis for her book On Gold Mountain (1995), which is a “must read” for any Asian American Studies major. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and another novel, Shanghai Girls, were both honorable mentions for the Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. She has also written a guidebook for L.A.’s Chinatown and was awarded National Woman of the Year in 2001 by the Organization of Chinese Americans and the History Makers Award by the Chinese American Museum in 2003. In an article published in Time magazine, See wrote of being multi-racial and the strong influence her Chinese heritage has had on her life.
The movie stars Asian actresses Li Bingbing and Gianna Jun (who are featured in Vogue this month with photos by Annie Leibovitz) but also has some male eye candy via Archie Kao and an appearance by Russell Wong (and some guy named Hugh Jackman).
Synopsis of the film:
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.
What unfolds are two stories, generations apart, but everlasting in their universal notion of love, hope and friendship.
As someone who read the book and loved the source material, I was glad to see this story come to life on the big screen and to have various notable Asian American and Asian names attached.
Snow Flower and The Secret Fan opens in select theaters this Friday, July 15th, in Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver. Over the next three weeks it will be onscreen in many more cities in the U.S and Canada.
(with thanks to Edward)