About the time you might find yourself getting invested in the story of 19th-century Chinese friends Snow Flower (Gianna Jun) and Lily (Li Bingbing), director Wayne Wang shifts the action to the here and now, and an ineffective comparative subplot involving Sophia and Nina (played by the same actresses, respectively). Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
is, in theory, an adaptation of Lisa See’s novel about the first pair of friends. The film doesn’t need the sweeping modern touches, especially since they dilute whatever impact the original story might have had. Worse, because the actresses are speaking English throughout much of the modern story, their performances suffer. This is an extremely insecure adaptation that could have been so much better.