Ash Is Purest White (2019)

Ash Is Purest White (2019)

A melodrama covered in a gangster movie's clothes

7.3

Movie

China, China France Japan
Mandarin
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance
2019
JIA ZHANGKE, ZHANGKE JIA
Casper Liang, Diao Yi'nan, Ding Jiali
141 min

What it's about

Set in China's underworld, this tale of love and betrayal follows a dancer who fired a gun to protect her mobster boyfriend during a fight. On release from prison 5 years later, she sets out to find him.

The take

Jia Zhangke (who NPR critic John Powers once called “perhaps the most important filmmaker working in the world today"), directed this movie based on the story of a gangster he knew while growing up.

And he is far from being the only noticeable talent here. Actress Tao Zhao shines as a character called Qiao, a dancer who infiltrates the crime scene in Northern China by way of her boyfriend (the gangster). When a boss leader is assassinated, Qiao finds herself in jail after she refuses to incriminate her boyfriend. 

This is a gangster movie but it’s also about how Qiao processes her time in jail and what she does once she gets out. It serves more as a character study and a picture of modern-day China.

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