Writer| Director: Zia Zhang-ke
Cast: Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang, Zijian Dong, Jing Dong Liang
131min Drama China
Cast: Zia Zhang-ke’s MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART is an beguiling and ambitious piece of filmmaking from a Chinese director whose previous dramas A Touch of Sin and Still Life have inventively captured the changing face of modern China.
The film opens in the form of a classic Hollywood picture and gradually becomes a creatively expansive essay film on the future of a Chinese family and the challenges it faces in adapting to life in a globalised society of Australia. The narrative unfolds in three parts that take place in 1999, 2014 and finally 2025.
Opening at the start of the new millennium, partygoers are celebrating the dawn of a new century to the rhythms of an old one. China has embraced Western capitalism and fast-forwarded itself into a fateful expansion which will see its economy eventually crash and burn within two decades. The new Gods are technological rather than spiritual: cars, machines and mobile phones: and the alienating power of communicating without interacting is strengthening its soul-destroying grip on society.
The director’s wife and longtime collaborator Zhao Tao (Still Life) plays Tao, a young and carefree woman, in love with Liang (Liang Jingdong) a coal-miner, but tempted into arms of a brash and nouveau rich entrepreneur Jingsheng (Zhang Yi), who takes over the mine where Liang is working and steals his girlfriend in the process. In true ‘Posh and Becks’ style, they name their firstborn “Dollar” in celebration of their wealth in this upwardly mobile lifestyle. Eventually the threesome cross paths again in 2014 (the second part) and Tao is visibly transformed into a sad and introspective woman who realises the error in her ways, and is reduced to a state of depression following her father’s death. Dollar eventually comes full circle into the present day state of economic meltdown as his life spins sadly out of control, alienated from family and country.
Nelson Lik-wai Yu’s visuals illuminate and enliven this remarkably powerful yet pensive film which, despite an ill-judged English language third act, resonates with a superb central performance from Zhao Tao. MT
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
SCREENING AT LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 7 -18 OCTOBER 2015