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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Review Critics


Dave White Profile

It's hard out here for a foot. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Perfectly middle of the road Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 33

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    Sadly, rather than melding the best of two worlds, the film only takes the worst of their soap operas.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The lesson of the lovely-looking, but disappointing, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is avoid tinkering too much with a novelist's work.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    While the action flashes back and forth in increments of centuries, years or months, we're adrift in the here and now, trying to get a grip on the characters and their relationships, yet finding it loosened with every new dislocation.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    So strong are the emotions - and, yes, the melodrama - that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan represents one of Wang's best films to date.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Snow Flower and the Secret Fan reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Women give each other support and friendship that sustains them through strained marriages and tragedies in a society that doesn't consider them equals to their husbands, fathers, and brothers.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: For the most part, the women are portrayed in a positive light. Though they may not always make the kindest or most empathetic decisions, they nevertheless arrive at them from a place of concern and love. On the other hand, the men, with the exception of possibly one character, seem controlling, opportunistic, or both. Sometimes, they're even cruel.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: A man drags his wife off and hits her -- viewers don't see much of the actual beating, though she's shown with bruises and a puffy face afterward. A character is hospitalized after a bike accident. References to war and the chaos and despair it creates. Some yelling. Pervasive repression of women pervades the storyline; women's feet are bound when they're kids, hobbling them both literally and figuratively.

  • sex false2

    Sex: A husband and wife have sex; viewers see a man on top of a woman, his naked back visible. Some grunting and moaning. Another man kisses a woman's bound feet. References to a character getting a girl pregnant. One passionate kiss.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A man is shown getting high on an opium pipe. Some social drinking in restaurants and bars; two women get inebriated after taking shots.