Magazine article Screen International

'Mountains May Depart': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Mountains May Depart': Review

Article excerpt

Dir/scr. Jia Zhangke. China, Japan, 2015. 131 min.

Although Jia Zhangke could well depart with an award at Cannes, Mountains May Departis possibly one of the most calculated and least affecting films he has presented here. Dealing with the changing face of China - past, present and future this time - Jia's picture is divided into three episodes which map the transition from budding capitalism to economic explosion. Using his characters as pawns on the chessboard of history, Mountains May Depart culminates in a nostalgic future where the Chinese look back for the identity they have lost.

The first section introduces a classic version of the romantic triangle set in the director's home town of Fenyang in Shanxi province. Young, ebullient Tao (Zhao Tao, the director's wife and the lead in many of his films) has to choose between the arrogant, cocky, business-oriented Jiusheng (Zhang Yi) and the rock-solid, hard-working miner Liangzi (Liang Jin Dong). Her choice is China's choice: she goes with the money and Liangzi leaves town.

In the film's second episode, Liangzi has contracted lung cancer in the mines and moves back home with his wife and child. He finds that Tao is already divorced and her son, named Dollar as per his father's request, has moved with her ex-husband to Shanghai.

The entire third episode takes place in a future Australia, where the older older immigrant Chinese generation is alienated despite all its accumulated wealth. The younger generation is adrift, trying to guess what and who they are. …

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