One pair of women, Snow Flower and Lily, live in traditional 19th-century China, when girls had their feet bound; the other pair, Sophia and Nina, live in modern Shanghai. Both pairs are played by the same actresses, Chinese star Li Bingbing (left) and South Korean Jun Ji-hyun (right).
Based on the 2005 novel of the same name, written by Chinese-American author Lisa See, the movie was directed by Wayne Wang, who also directed The Joy Luck Club (1993) and A Thousand Year of Good Prayers (2007). Wang is well known for successfully depicting subtle and complicated relationships.
The film is captivating in the way it takes the audience through time to some interesting history of laotong or "sworn sisters" and how they communicated through a secret language of women's writing, called nu shu, on a fan. Its slow pace works perfectly in bringing out the touchingly quiet, but strong relationship between the two characters.
The parallel stories shows how female friendships remain strong and important in women despite the change in time and society.
It is a film that reminds us of an equally, if not more, important relationship for women other than a marital one, and a relationship that will remain through hardship- and for a lifetime.