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4.0 out of 5 stars53
4.0 out of 5 stars
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`Snow Flower' is one of those movies which you're likely to enjoy more if you haven't read the book around which it's based. It's an emotionally charged historical drama which contrasts two parallel tales of friendship between women, one set in the 19th century and the other in the modern world. The film interpretation is quite different to the book, although the core themes are the same.
Set in the feudal era of warlords, arranged marriages and foot-binding, the historical aspect of the film follows the fortunes of two young girls in Hunan who are paired together as laotong, friends for life. This reflects the formal marriages of the time when girls were parcelled off to make a good match, without the prospect of love or companionship within their marriages. The film delicately explores the changing fortunes of the pair as their paths separate and they become isolated, with only a series of secret messages for support.
200 years later in modern Shanghai, another childhood friendship appears to be unravelling as the women reach maturity and seem to be going their separate ways. As children they mimicked their ancestors by signing a traditional laotong contract - as adults they must explore what that means, or lose each other's friendship forever.

We enjoyed the historical segments of the film far more than the modern ones, although the mirrored themes are cleverly represented across them both. The four main characters are played by two actresses who deliver heart-wrenching performances with plot threads interwoven between the two time periods. The spikey high heels of the smart Shanghai set echo the torment of the children with their feet bound back to enhance their beauty; the girls are forced to assess the value of their friendships - and make life-changing sacrifices for each others' benefit. Can friendship really last for life, against the odds of domestic pressure and the demands of the modern world? At the end, there really wasn't a dry eye in the house...
The cameo by Hugh Jackman is little more than a couple of scenes, hardly a big part. Some of the spoken English can be hard to follow, while the minor historical characters (the husband and mother-in-law) seem to be little more than caricatures. The film veers unashamedly into the realm of the sentimental costume drama. It wears its heart on its sleeve, in fact; some may consider it soppy but we thought it was touching in its innocence. You'd be advised to watch the film first and read the book afterwards.

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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2013
This film is made of two distinct story lines, one in modern day Shanghai and the other set in rural China in the 1820's. Both concern two women, who are played by the same two actresses in both settings, who are in each case a 'Laotong' to eachother, something akin to a female soul-mate. The film parallels their struggles in the modern world and that of two centuries earlier.
In the 1820's, which was definitely the more interesting story line, the two girls named Lily and Snow Flower, are paired together across a social divide as Laotongs to each other. Both have their feet bound as young girls, and Lily is praised for the perfect form of her feet, which enable her to acquire a husband of higher social standing, such was the concept of beauty and social worth. Snow Flower, from a richer family, marries less well after her father becomes a bankrupt opium-pipe addict. This story follows the struggle of both women through married life in a male-dominated society, and is at times very poignant and moving, with excellent scenes and costume. The women communicate with each other by writing on a fan that they pass between them.
The modern day story line also tells the life of the two girls, Nina and Sophia, in a different but very comparable situation. Nina's family is ruined by a stock market crash and is separated from Sophia, when she meets a nightclub singer and owner (Hugh Jackman cameo), and after an accident both girls are reunited, realising that their friendship is the most important thing to them.
The parallels in the two settings deliver the message that despite the great changes in the world across centuries and generations, the most important things in life, such as human relationships, remain immutable.
The film has many good points: the structure is clever and unusual - although this mirrors the novel, and the insight into early nineteenth century Chinese culture is highly revealing. I was less struck by the twentieth century story line however, which prevented my giving it the highest star rating. At times this was a little slow, occasionally difficult to follow, and the story seemed a little forced in places to create the historical parallel.
However this is certainly worth watching, and I'm tempted to read the book after seeing this.
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on 25 February 2013
I had read the book which the film is based on a few years ago and did not know it had been made into a film until I caught it on TV recently. I had missed most of the TV transmission so I purchased the movie. It has a nice mix if modern and ancient china running the stories of two women parallel in the two different times which the book did not. Personally I would not read the book before watching the film read the book afterwards to fill in more detail. A great story of female friendship which many women will relate to.
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on 5 November 2013
A wonderful film, beautifully acted. I liked it so well I bought a copy for my daughter. It arrived on time and in excellent condition. Many thanks.
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on 2 February 2014
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the book, I was more than pleased to come across the film which I did not know had been made. It didn't disappoint. The film is very different from the book but is a work of art in its own right. It is atmospheric, beautifully shot and has wonderful music. I just wanted to watch it all over again when it came to an end.
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on 5 April 2014
Absolutely beautiful story. Made me cry from sadness and happiness. Recommend to all women around the world. Watch this story about a deep love between 2 friends who understood each other on a level where only 2 soulmates (women/friends/sisters) can do. Loved it.
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on 5 March 2014
Charming and sometimes very sad story of two childhood friends and their subsequent adult lives in rural China . Remaining true to each other despite their very different lifestyles . A well made storyline and good acting .
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on 20 May 2012
I must admit that I love Chinese and Japanese names - Snow Flower is beautiful and poetic. Take note celebs when naming children! I am also a massive fan of Asian Cinema -whether it be action Martial arts films or gentler ones like this. I don't know how anyone could be cynical about this film, dealing as it does with vows of true friendship that we in the West could learn from. It is an unashamed 'weepie' and maybe more aimed at women than us men, but I allow myself a guilty pleasure now and again. The photography and acting are gorgeous and the sentiments expressed laudable. I watched the film twice over as some of the flitting through time became a little confusing first time around-but all was much clearer second time. I am almost certain that I will watch it again! I am glad I haven't read the book as that invariably spoils the effect as the book and the film are rarely the same and purists will complain, as I might have done!
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on 7 April 2015
A beautiful film which had me crying at the emotional parts and taught me a lot about the love that exists between sisters; whether by blood or not. It made me treasure my own sisters even more. I loved the storyline, scenery and soundtrack.

I would have given this film a higher rating but for the acting and perceived gaps in the story. I also hated the ending; too ambiguous. I was left to infer or wonder what happened next. But on the whole, a good film. I would like to read the book though.
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on 4 May 2014
I found this film to be a very moving and beautiful film, gently executed, full of symbolism and a deep strong sense of story. Focusing on mainly two characters both past and present the parallels became stronger towards the end where the relevance of the theme of this film was brought into sharp focus. Both moving and sad there was a lesson for all in power of friendship and love...haunting, powerful, gentle and a sad reminder of what women endured in China.
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