Sadly, rather than melding the best of two worlds, the film only takes the worst of their soap operas.
Keith Staskiewicz - Entertainment Weekly
For those who may have wondered if foot binding, wife beating and a crooning Hugh Jackman could fit into one movie, here's the short answer: no.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
Here is a very self-conscious attempt to bridge the US-China divide through the medium of glossy, handsomely mounted cinema.
Andrew Pulver - Guardian [UK]
Perhaps this was intended to draw the largely female crossover audience that went to Joy Luck Club. But the dual stories don't mesh well.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
Emphasizes melodrama over character development, until the proceedings feel like a rabbit hole of misfortune.
Stephanie Merry - Washington Post
All the two actresses do is gaze out of apartment and carriage windows, through floorboards, into each other's eyes, and, once, while wishfully wearing a man's suit.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
As the parallel friendships evolve over time, both push and pull between platonic and erotic; it's to the film's credit that it never definitively suggests that love can only be one or the other.
Karina Longworth - Village Voice
Its story-within-a-story - a tale of two laotong, or soul sisters, in oppressive mid-1800s China - is gorgeous but simplistic.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
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.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
I briefly felt bad when the film, in its first five minutes, knocked Sophie into a coma. But I felt even worse 10 minutes later: Dear reader, I envied her.
James Rocchi - MSN Movies
As movies about female bonding go, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" is thin tea.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
The film version of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" proceeds as if willed into being by a particularly misguided "question for discussion," the kind you'd find at the tail end of a bestseller's paperback edition.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Wang ... needlessly pads the movie with heart-tugging gimmicks and canned melodrama that undercuts its raw impact.
Alexis Loinaz - Chicago Tribune
In this lavish adaptation of Lisa See's novel, the complex chronologies of the parallel narratives are skillfully handled by director Wayne Wang, which makes his reliance on unbridled sentimentality all the more irritating.
Andrea Gronvall - Chicago Reader
A story of much visual grace and, sadly, considerable narrative awkwardness.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
It's the No-Joy, Bad-Luck Club.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
It's a coordinated, stylish dance, but the steps are awfully familiar.
Tom Long - Detroit News
The film is visually sumptuous but emotionally inert. It never draws in the viewer.
Randy Cordova - Arizona Republic
What should be a moving testament to the enduring friendship between two Chinese women instead plays like a bewildering apologia for co-dependency issues.
Justin Chang - Variety
You're advised to bring a hankie or two should you venture forth to see the tearjerker "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan."
V.A. Musetto - New York Post
"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" aims for the heartstrings and only strikes a few notes.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
[A] confusing time-travelling tale that uses Lisa See's 2005 bestseller of the same name to fuel cheap sentiment and a jumbled story.
Linda Barnard - Toronto Star
The juxtaposition of stories about women in old and new China may have been intended to widen the audience for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, but all it does is lose the heart and pathos of See's novel in a jumbled mess.
Jennie Punter - Globe and Mail
An emotionally powerful tale of two sets of Chinese women in two different centuries.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
The trouble is that the modern story whipped up for "Snow Flower" isn't very compelling. Yet it dominates the movie, continually oozing back in just as the period drama is getting interesting.
David Germain - Associated Press
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a delicate, if sometimes disturbing, portrait of the enduring relationships that bond women together, out in theaters now.
Amy Curtis - We Got This Covered
Brent Simon - Shared Darkness
Despite the unevenness, the sincerity of the work shines through.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
It's a well shot film with beautiful cinematography, though it does feel a bit too constrained at times. But as beautiful as it was, the story and characters failed to grab me
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
Were it not for the slow pacing and the obviousness of message, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan would have been successful.
James Plath - Movie Metropolis
Although it looks fantastic, it barely registers on an emotional level because it feels so dull and manipulative.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
It's a three-handkerchief weepie untainted by ugly politics.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
A from Hugh Jackman as a Mandarin-singing nightclub owner is about the only thing that livens up this generation-spanning tale of female friendship.
Alistair Harkness - Scotsman
The whole looks lush, but it doesn't deliver as it should.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
Visual flourishes aren't enough to detract from a confused plot and mawkishly sentimental overtones.
Paul Weedon - Little White Lies
This rich weave of eras looks pretty, but plays to an exoticised vision of old-world China, even as it demystifies the excruciating custom of foot-binding.
Carmen Gray - Total Film
Not even the second best Hugh Jackman cameo of the year can save it from being little more than a period curio.
Anna Smith - Empire Magazine
An ever-so-tasteful, watered-down and unnecessarily-improved-upon adaptation of Lisa See's bestselling 2005 novel of the same name.
Leah Rozen - The Wrap
Unfortunately that truth isn't illuminated with any originality: tearful confessions and pensive gazing out windows are commonplace.
Craig Mathieson - The Age (Australia)
A quality arthouse film, beautifully photographed and very well acted.
Jim Schembri - The Age (Australia)
Despite strong performances and a rich premise, this is let down by its own self-importance and sentimentality.
Annette Basile - FILMINK (Australia)
An intricate and beautiful film about friendship and its implications
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
With weeping violins, wailing cellos and melancholy piano wall to wall, this sentimental story of sisterly love found, lost and found again is beautifully made. The big but is the needlessly complicated storytelling
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Sisters-for-life torn apart in schmaltzy Chinese melodrama.
Don Groves - sbs.com.au
A grandly appointed disappointment.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
This is not a great film. It is, however, sometimes a very good one, and it's always a joy to behold in visual terms.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Hopelessly inert, even as it hops between modern, trendy Shanghai and rural 19th-century Hunan...
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Wayne Wang is perhaps best known for directing the lovely screen adaptation of The Joy Luck Club, but there's no joy to be found anywhere in this stately, stodgy film.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
The drastic alterations to Lisa See's compelling novel about the lifelong friendship between two women in 19th century China are unsettling, at least for fans of the original bestseller, and they detract a bit too much from the story See so artfully told.
Connie Ogle - Miami Herald
It's produced by Wendi Murdoch, tiger wife of beleaguered mogul Rupert Murdoch, and defender of his pride from prank pies. The movie comes from a division of Rupert's empire. After Wendi's slap heard round the world, it's the least he could do.
Steve Persall - St. Petersburg Times
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
Respectable but bland, with all the surface trappings of a meaningful prestige picture but none of the emotional power.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
A tear-jerking soap opera chick flick about love and loyalty
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
There's a noble tale of sacrifice and love to be found somewhere here, but it's buried beneath endless shots of billowing silk, and long takes of the leads gazing soulfully as the same four bars of weepy music drone over and over...
Corey Hall - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
... stately, solemn and serious, but easier to admire than to enjoy ...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Parallel stories from the past and the present are crosscut throughout this film, but rather than amplifying the dual tales' ramifications the technique only ups the film's turgidity quotient.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
- Austin Chronicle
"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" wants to be "The Color Purple" in China, but it's really just a Lifetime Original Movie with subtitles.
Graham Killeen - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The performances, often delivered for no good reason in awkwardly accented English, are almost universally wooden. And the film's overall message is an ode to sorority that's so saccharine as to be insulting.
Marc Mohan - Oregonian
[Moves] the stick figures in its center through the motions of friendship without seeming to quite understand the actual reasons why we make those deep, abiding friendships in the first place.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
There aren't enough movies about women's friendships. And there really aren't enough movies about women's friendships with all-Asian casts. So it's a bummer to report that this one's as terrible as it is.
Dave White - Movies.com
Wang's also made perhaps the most flavorless, outright boring picture of 2011, breaking down the plot into tiny, inert pieces of meaninglessness.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Some will argue that certain films should bypass theaters altogether and be released direct to video. I would've liked to see this go straight to book clubs.
William Goss - Orlando Weekly
The film features two of the least effective lead performances of the year, which keeps the audience from engaging in the story emotionally and just leaves them wondering how this book became a bestseller.
Brian Tallerico - HollywoodChicago.com
The constant cutting between the two stories, and the inexplicable scrambling of chronology within the stories, also become annoying and impedes the ability of either story to really build emotionally.
Sarah Boslaugh - Playback:stl
Power of Friendship Blossoms in 'Flower'
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Like his old-time Hollywood predecessors, Wang goes for big-hearted, over-the-top emotions.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Once we've quickly digested the fortune-cookie message that modern women are as bound by obligations as their grandmothers were, all we can savor is the scenery.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A maudlin, meandering soap opera that traverses nearly two hundred years bluntly--and boringly--making the same obvious point over and over again.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
I think even rabid fans of the book will be disappointed.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
An old-fashioned two-silk-hanky costumed weepy.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
Bears little resemblance to the book, and even less resemblance to a good movie.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
Wang, back in Joy Luck Club territory, serves up melodrama without smothering substance.
Betsy Sherman - Boston Phoenix
Visually, the film is a treat with Richard Wong's cinematography equally evocative at capturing the pastoral beauty and slower rhythms of rural 19th century China and the urban splendor and bustle of today's Shanghai.
Pam Grady - Boxoffice Magazine
Overall it's a very competent film, but kept me at a distance and never got very engaging.
Grae Drake - Movies.com
Female friendship and loyalty are at the heart of Snow Flower And The Secret Fan. Too bad that's all but buried by the pile-on of events that connects women from different eras across time and place.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
Disappointing literary adaptation has some heavy themes.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
Whatever passion might have been here to begin with never made it to the screen.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Visually stunning drama linking past and present China in parallel stories about the laotong pairing of females into intense friendships should score solidly with, of course, female art-house patrons. Guys with taste will also pay attention.
Doris Toumarkine - Film Journal International
A portrait of female fidelity that ranges across centuries and social classes, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is sad, sumptuous fluff with a refined literary pedigree.
Jesse Cataldo - Slant Magazine
...works on some levels - production values are high, especially in the flashback story - but fails on others...
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" has such seriousness and purpose behind it that for 10 or 15 minutes it could be mistaken for a good movie.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Wang loses the plot in the contemporary sequences, which are drab looking and stupidly melodramatic.
Stephanie Zacharek - Movieline
A turgid, generations-spanning melodrama that deifies and fetishizes the idea of feminine companionship's intense depths without substantively delivering a fully rendered portrait of it.
Brent Simon - Screen International
Aims for The Joy Luck Club's crossover appeal but ends up stilted and emotionally remote.
Alison Willmore - AV Club
Nothing more than a badly done, cheesy beach read. "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" is one of the worst, most deadly boring films of 2011.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Feels less like an attempt to broaden the book's horizons than to cash in on Joy's cross-generational appeal while doubling down on cheap-shot melodrama.
David Fear - Time Out New York
It's hard to think of another filmmaker who has done so much for the representation of Chinese and Chinese-American on screen, and yet his latest melodrama, a multi-generational chronicle of female friendship, is disappointing.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
This clumsy adaptation of Lisa See's popular novel may not be the biggest problem Rupert Murdoch's got on his plate, but it sure isn't going to help things, either.
Joanna Langfield - The Movie Minute
This isn't really a movie made for guys, although I can appreciate the artfulness of its construction and the solemnity of its purpose and the studied intensity of the acting.
Burl Burlingame - Honolulu Star-Advertiser