Inspired by the bestselling novel of the same name by Lisa See (邝丽莎 / 冯丽莎) which is set in nineteenth century Chin, the film is a timeless portrait of female friendship. It is directed by Wayne Wang (王颖) with Angela Workman adapted the original script, revised by Ronald Bass and Michael Ray. The film stars Li Bingbing (李冰冰), Jun Ji-hyun / Gianna Jun (全智贤), Vivian Wu (邬君梅), and features a cameo appearance by Hugh Jackman.
In 19th-century China, seven-year-old girls Snow Flower and Lily are matched as laotong - or “old sames” - bound together for eternity. Isolated by their families, they furtively communicate by taking turns writing in a secret language, nu shu, between the folds of a white silk fan. In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong’s descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai. Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever. What unfolds are two stories, generations apart, but everlasting in their universal notion of love, hope and friendship.
- via Apple