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‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ Movie Review

4 May

Movie poster via IMP Awards

I wouldn’t have known to look for a movie of this book if it hadn’t been brought up when I went to hear Lisa See speak. She mentioned Hugh Jackman’s singing scene so I was ready for something completely different from the book I read. I enjoyed the movie despite its obvious differences but I’m still going to the old adage that the book was way better and had a lot more depth to it that the movie lacked. The story-within-a-story premise was nice but detracted from the historical story.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Using the same actresses for past and present. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t notice it right away. It took me about twenty minutes from when the combined narrative started to recognize Snow Flower as Sophia. The makeup for Nina/Lilly was really good and I didn’t see it right away. I thought it was really cool to see the projection of Sophia and Nina’s relationship into Snow Flower and Lilly’s story.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Minimizing the time on the mountain. This time was a bit overextended in my mind. The book spent a lot of time on it because the Sworn Sisters became a big part of the story and this is where we met them. Her son’s death was the most significant thing that happened during this period but without the background of the second son being so favored in Snow Flower’s family. I understand See wanted to bring historical events into the book, but it didn’t move the plot along as much as I would have liked.

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

The extent of Snow Flower’s family loss. She says her father is an opium addict but doesn’t talk about the losses her family suffered because of this. She doesn’t express her shame as deeply as she had in the book and feel the loss of her mother as profoundly.

Auntie Wang. There’s a parallel aunt character in the modern setting, so why was it glossed over that Madam Wang was Snow Flower’s aunt? It seems this might be something that was removed late in the game because it was really well set up.

Things That Changed Too Much

Mother-daughter relationships. The book focused a lot on ‘mother love’ and how a mother shows love for her daughters by binding their feet and how much both girls loved their children. We get a taste of this with Lilly during the plague, but it’s a lot less than we get in the book. The strained relationship between mothers and daughters was really sad to me in the book and I wish it had made the movie.

The bath house. I was confused why this was brought in. Sophia missed her father so she dressed as a man to visit his bathhouse and hid family heirlooms there? It’s a stretch to think she could make it into the locker room! I wish this had been taken out, it was really contrived and I didn’t think it added anything to the movie.

The wedding scene. When Snow Flower comes to her cousin’s wedding and runs into Lilly, it was one of the most emotional scenes in the book. Snow Flower tells Lilly how lost and abandoned she feels and Lilly retorts about how Snow Flower broke a promise. It was stressed that Snow Flower comes with Madam Wang and not her Sworn Sisters, yet the movie has her show up with the women. It glossed over a moment I felt was really pivitol in the book and it upset me.

The movie tried to add a lot in a place I didn’t think it needed to. I wish they’d stuck to the historical plot line without trying to make it more relatable. Reader, have you see the Snow Flower and the Secret Fan movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

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