Our Rating: ★★★☆☆
L Factor: Lesbian Film
Short Take: An intern falls in love with a botany professor’s daughter in an idyllic paradise – but with tragic consequences.
Alternate Titles: Les filles du botaniste
Year: 2006
Duration: 105 min
Language: France, Canada/French
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Sijie Dai
Writer: Sijie Dai, Nadine Perront
Starring: Mylène Jampanoï, Xiao Ran Li, Ling Dong Fu, Wei-chang Wang

Chinese Botanist’s Daughters Trailer

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+Alt Tags+In the 1980s, two Chinese co-workers fell in love. One married the other’s brother so that they could live together, but when found out, both were executed. It’s their story that inspired this French film, lush and romantic, but still headed towards tragedy. The Chinese government would not allow them to shoot in China, so the film was made in Vietnam.

Li Ming (Mylène Jampanoï) is an orphan whose Chinese father and Russian mother both died when she was three. After growing up in an orphanage, she lands a six week internship with Professor Chen (Ling Dong Fu), a leading botanist who takes her in to live on an isolated island with his daughter An (Xiao Ran Li).

As the two young women collect plants and care for Chen’s herbal gardens, they become closer in the midst of strikingly beautiful green landscapes. Romance is in the air under the nose of the stern Chen, who also makes them wait on him hand and foot, including actually washing his feet.

When Chen suggests that Li Ming marry An’s brother Dan (Wei-chang Wang), they decide that this is the only way for them to stay together, especially since he is away most of the time in the army. Dan is none too happy to find out that his bride is not a virgin, but heads back to his Tibetan army post none the wiser.

All seems like paradise for the love birds now – but the end will shock you. Some will love the slow paced romance and erotic atmosphere. Others will find it too languid, waiting for the idyllic to turn into the tragic. (AB)