Jasmine Women is a 2004 film, adapted from Su Tong's novel called Funu Shenghuo which means The Lives of Women. It is directed by Hou Yong the well known cinematographer. Zhang Ziyi plays the youngest of three generations of women who leads lives in Shanghai. Joan Chen plays the great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother. The film recounts this family, the mistakes they make, and a cycle that the granddaughter breaks out of. The film was very well received by critics and was praised for its use of color and the performances of Zhang Ziyi and Joan Chen.
Mo's Story (1930's)
18 year old Mo
) lives with her mother (Joan Chen
) who owns a small photo shop. She wants to become a movie star, a dream her mother does not understand. One day, Mo meets Mr. Meng (Jiang Wen
), manager of a movie studio. She leaves her mother to become a movie star. She enters a relationship with Mr. Meng and becomes pregnant. She refuses to have an abortion so when the Japanese invade China during WWII, Meng leaves Shanghai forever. The movie studio is shut down and Mo returns home. She gives birth to Li and blames her for everything she has lost. She then sleeps with her mother's new boyfriend which causes her mother to commit suicide.
Li's Story (1950's)
(also played by Zhang Ziyi) had grown up with her mother (now played by Joan Chen) in misery. Mo continuously talks about her dream of being a movie star. She marries Zou Jie (Lu Yi
) who was the head of her high school's Communist Party. They move into Jie's home but unused to their lifestyle and unable to bear a child of her own, they move back with Mo. Li adopt a baby girl named Hua. Day by day, Li had becomes more and more paranoid and even accuses Zou for violating Hua. Li’s own family collapses and Zou commits suicide on a train track. Li leaves her home; her fate is unknown.
Hua’s Story (1980’s)
Li disappears when Hua
(Zhang Ziyi) was still very young and she has grown up with her grandmother Mo (Joan Chen). Mo finds comfort in taking care of her granddaughter. Hua’s husband Du (Liu Ye
) was not happy with his wife and had an affair with another woman. Hua decided to end the marriage even though she had already carried Du’s child. Mo encourages her to abort the baby but Hua decides against it just like her grandmother. However before she can get home, her grandmother has died. Years later, Du has come back to Hua but she has moved on with her life. She moves into a new home with resolve to change her family's destiny and raise her daughter.
The movie was completed in 2004 but due to post-production difficulty, it was delayed until 2005.
The Chinese name of the movie Mo li hua kai is based on a popular Chinese song which means Jasmine Flower Blossom. It was sung at the Closing Cermonies of the Athens Olympics.
The names of the characters in the movie are based on this song.