Ash Is Purest White (2019)
Critic Consensus: Ash Is Purest White finds writer-director Zhangke Jia revisiting familiar themes while continuing to observe modern Chinese society with an urgent, empathetic eye.
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Critic Reviews for Ash Is Purest White
Zhao Tao just gives this powerhouse performance. It's so understated and her work -- and the film as a whole -- really do accumulate in their emotional resonance.
As a gangster morality tale "Ash" is pretty mild; as a picture of China and Qiao's struggle it's much better.
Qiao scams philandering men, seemingly driven by the desire to punish Bin. And yet the film, slowly, reveals more melancholic aims, guiding a low-key finale towards a mournful evocation of what China has lost on the way towards modernisation.
The story is so richly novelistic the temptation is just to synopsise - but that risks not only spoilers, but failing to convey how much wonder is conjured beyond the plot, the stellar performance of Zhao, the insta-futuristic landscapes...
Fascinating in its balance between microcosm and aerial view, but the performances definitely raise more emotional heat.
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