Some books lose something on their way to the big screen. That's the case with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, based on Lisa See's bestselling novel. The story of two best friends (played by Bingbing Li and Gianna Jun) in present-day Hong Kong runs parallel with the tale of two sisters in the Hunan Province during the 19th century. The girls' hardship and prosperity span centuries as they're fed the ol' love-conquers-all song and dance. Even though it runs less than two hours, there are times the movie feels like it will never end. Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) paints an unquestionably beautiful portrait, with scenes soaked in rich blues and yellows. But it's hard to feel any kind of intimacy with these characters, and sometimes their motivations aren't that clear, maybe because Snow Flower is a story that needs the time and painstaking details of a novel to tell.