ASH IS PUREST WHITE movie review is here: The 2018 Chinese drama film directed by master filmmaker Jia Zhangke was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Starring Zhao Tao and Liao Fan, the movie is releasing in India on August 2, 2019 through PVR cinemas in association with In2Infotainment, Kahwa films and Vkaao. Here is the review of the internationally acclaimed art house that created a wave in Asia and other parts as well.
Immediate reaction when the end credits roll
The modern day Chinese master Jia Zhangke once again proves his supremacy in telling coming of age stories about a nation like China and its people running amazingly parallel with each other. Powered by Zhao Tao’s unbeatable performance ASH IS PUREST WHITE is pure gold cinema that ‘documents’ the reality hidden in the modernity in an exceptionally divine tale of love and survival.
The story of ASH IS PUREST WHITE
The Chinese title is direct “Jianghu Er Nv” (Sons and daughters of Jianghu) – an underworld community that remarkably upholds a sense of righteousness despite coming from a poor background. The English title ASH IS PUREST WHITE has spiritual/karmic influence. Qiao (Zhao Tao) is a coalminer’s daughter from Shanxi, northern China. Moll of local gangster Bin (Liao Fan) who runs mahjong parlour. The movie is a journey of Qiao spanning 18 years and what happened in China since 2001. Life takes unexpected turns when Bin is attacked by young street goons. Seeing her lover getting mercilessly beaten after putting a brave fight, Qiao comes to his rescue and fires a gun to protect Bin. The possession of an illegal gun lends Qia in prison for five years and in her undying love and loyalty towards Bin, Qiao restrains from giving any information on how she got that weapon. After her release, Qiao begins to reach for Bin who surprisingly didn’t turn up. Rest is how the life of Qioa and Bin changes with the times of China that travels o Fengjie, a city among the Three Gorges that faces imminent submersion, the complexities of humans and changes in ‘nature’.
On surface modern day Chinese master Jia Zhangke’s ASH IS PUREST WHITE appears to be a familiar story of love lost but it’s actually a metaphoric documentation of what modernization has done to the ancient Chinese society. How modernity, progress steals the compassion, bulldozes humanity in the name of development which is ruled by greed. What started with STILL LIFE, that issued a warning of the consequences of the Three Gorges Dam project on nature, nation and human begins, ends with ASH IS PUREST WHITE – a melancholy, an exceptionally divine tale of love and survival that is universal in its ethos. While Qiao is the epitome of undying love, resistance and sacrifice, Bin is the epitome of changing times of China, where capitalism is taking over. Bin seeks power through money, men and that makes his ‘nature’ turn dubious and selfish while Qiao gains strength through hardships and maintains the morality of Jianghu ( it means river and lake) and traditionally used in classic Chinese literature to define martial arts. Zhao Tao spearheads this intoxicating journey where her love for Bin burns in high temperature, it’s the volcano within that ends in that divine white ash. This story of pure love is told with an impeccable eye for detail. With the inclusion of the brilliance of THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES fame French DOP Eric Gautier, and excellent art direction by Matthieu Laclau, Chinese master Jia Zhangke’s micro –macro approach gets solid authenticity that leaves a profound impression that stays.
An art house material that requires some understanding of what happened in China during the last two decades and the movie is a slow burner.
ASH IS PUREST WHITE is a cinema that turns gold as it burns slowly and gradually. An exceptionally divine tale of love and survival finds the Chinese modern day master filmmaker Jia Zhangke and his wife the incredible actress Zhao Tao at their peak. It’s atmospheric, poetic, individualistic, powerful and mournful all in one. The initiative by Kahwa films powered by PVR cinemas in association with In2Infotainment and Vkaao is indeed a breath of fresh air for the true connoisseurs of cinema. Don,t forget to catch this gem.