Ash Is Purest White ★★★★

A film of three parts, following the relationship of two people, unable to really commit to loving each other, over a period of almost two decades. Intertwined, and perhaps even more importantly, we also see the development of modern China (a recurring Jia Zhangke theme). Full of impactful long takes and beautiful cinematography, what stands out way above anything else is the performance of Tao Zhao as Qiao. Although never without her own agency in a film otherwise dominated by men, the character still develops through the years as a result of her experiences until the tables seem completely turned. And in some ways Qiao also personifies modern China - rooted in history but constantly moving forward, fiercely self-sufficient with a backbone of steel and in complete control of her emotions. Thought-provoking.

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