Ash is the Purest White (2018)

Jia Zhangke directs Zhao Tao, Liao Fan and Feng Xiaogang in this modern gangster melodrama following the on-off relationship between a gangster and his loyal moll.

The 21st century is navigated by encroaching western influences, mobile phone evolution and architectural expansion. A faltering relationship between a rising criminal and his lover goes through many twists and turns. To reveal the first big one here would rob the film of some of its power. I was glad I went in relatively blind. At two and a half hours, the epic and the intimate… the cliched and the enigmatic… work themselves into quite a spellbinding net. Zhao Tao’s lead role is distinctly rich and complex. Meaty enough that I bet every female Hollywood star is itching to get the remake rights. The final act set in the present day lacks the glamour and the natural propulsion of the earlier more gripping chapters but this is a strong piece of arthouse cinema. Well worth hunting down.


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