Despite what other critics have said, I thought this was an excellent film—3? out of 4 stars from me. This film respected that to a degree, but I feared otherwise throughout its 2 hour running time. A story set in 19th century China and centered on the lifelong friendship between two girls who develop their own secret code as a way to contend with the rigid cultural norms imposed on women. It is based on the best selling book by Lisa See, with the film being directed by Wayne Wang.
Born on the same day in the same year, they are bound to become lifelong sisters and best friends. It is well made, the acting is top notch, the visuals appropriate, and the score—provided by Academy Award winning composer Rachel Portman—is excellent. Several people in the theater, including my wife, were in tears, and I was personally touched by the film.
Sexual content is limited to a single scene that shows Snow Flower having intercourse with her husband, but, besides his back, there isn’t any skin shown, and it is brief. It was a scant 2 hours though, as the engrossing story kept my attention to the point that I never felt it was going on too long—this coming from a guy who typically reserves theater trips for action or horror movies.
The scenery and the music were very beautiful, and gave kind of a sweeping epic feel to the story.
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The movie opens with successful businesswoman Sophia on the verge of a move to New York after a promotion.
While waiting on Nina to hopefully awake, she travels around to find out what her old friend’s life had become like during their time apart. The movie tells the story of their friendship and lives as Chinese women growing up in their culture, and the struggles they endure.

I didn’t find the constant flashbacks at all confusing, because they come at the right times, and are usually indicated by Nina staring off into space, or focused on a particular object, place, or person. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good drama or historical movie featuring Asian culture. Buddhism doesn’t feature either, fortunately, except for the practice of burning incense for the deceased. In this movie, when Lily’s husband is about to travel for business, she simply asks if it would be safe, since it’s a considerable distance away.
No doubt a close friendship is a good thing, as even Jonathan and David had a covenant relationship with each other. I liked that it ended with hope; that the modern friendship would make good on their second chance and learn from the mistakes of the older one. There is also a much welcomed appearance by Hugh Jackman, who plays an ex-boyfriend of Nina’s.
There is, also, some talk of astrology, as the “laotongs” are linked in accordance with their signs. She then rides off on her bicycle, so lost in her thoughts that she ends up getting hit by a car. She, also, comes upon a novel that Nina had been writing, which tells the story of Snow Flower and Lily. When I heard he was in the film I was a little put off, but I think it was a good idea to cast him as someone the American audiences could recognize. Sacrificial love is demonstrated by both women, throughout the film, and in heartwarming fashion. Sickness and death is touched upon, especially during the part of the story about Snow Flower and Lily, at a time when plagues had little or no remedy. It’s painful, as is accurately portrayed in the film, and leads to all sorts of physical problems.
Good friendships are a blessing, but I was a little leery when this movie seemed to promote them above God’s holy institution of marriage.

The friendship is beautiful, and such love between friends is sorely missing today, even in the Christian community. The men considered it beautiful and thus, to be married well, a woman’s feet needed to be bound well.
Husbands and wives do not exist simply for procreation, sex, or social status (as seems to be the case in the film, at times), but for love and affection (1 Corinthians 7) and to model the closeness of the relationship between Christ and His Church—and Christ and individual believers. There’s also a bit of drug use, as one of the girls” fathers has an addiction to opium, but, like the abuse, it isn’t portrayed at all in a positive light. Although God calls for a woman to submit to her husband and may give different roles to men and women, He clearly states that men and women are equal.
The one-flesh relationship, for which a man leaves his father and mother, is sacred, and should be honored as such. I don’t feel any friendship should ever come before that, and, at times, this movie dabbled around that line.
And a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, and to treat her as well as he would his own body (Ephesians 5). While friends should be loyal to each other, ultimately, besides God, the spousal relationship comes before all others.
Subjecting women to such awful practices, and treating them as if their concerns shouldn’t be taken into account was commonplace in the old days and in many cultures. Unfortunately the women’s lib movements have gone far and beyond what they set out to do (and what the Bible would call for), but having such mindsets mostly behind us is certainly a good thing.

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