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Film Review

Wang explores foot binding and female bonding as he sells out for mass appeal

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Inseparable — Bingbing Li and Gianna Jun in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

The sententious dialogue guarantees that a viewer will know exactly what to think, unless that viewer is allergic to oracular utterances such as: “Fate has taught me that I am just another woman” or “Only through pain will you find beauty.” Against the backdrop of Shanghai’s frenetically reconstructing cityscape, it is not necessary to be told that: “The world is always changing.”

Director Wang has changed dramatically since his early independent productions. Chan Is Missing, Eat a Bowl of Tea, and Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart established him as the most compelling cinematic chronicler of the Chinese diaspora in America. With The Joy Luck Club, Maid in Manhattan, and, now, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Wang has abandoned his nu shu, his personal language, to embrace big budgets and broad effects. Puzzled by what has become of her friendship with Sophia, whose mysteries she tries to fathom, Nina wonders aloud: “How did we end up here?” When a character has to ask that, there is something wrong with the script, as well as the trajectory of Wang’s career. •


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Dir. Wayne Wang; writ. Angela Workman, Ronald Bass, based on a novel by Lisa See; feat. Bingbing Li, Gianna Jun, Vivian Wu. (PG-13)

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