Sixth Generation Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke is once again garnering buzz around the festival circuit with his latest feature Ash is Purest White, which gets a new trailer courtesy of distributor Cohen Media Group.
Jia-regular Zhao Tao finds herself in a typical pickle when her mobster boyfriend becomes increasingly embroiled in his gang’s ongoing conflict, a particularly violent encounter prompting her to take action herself…
Contemporary Chinese cinema, for all the arthouse street cred it can afford, often comes across as largely forgettable for me. There’s a fascination with the mundane and everyday urban life that I can only imagine resonates strongly with a lot of Chinese, or international travelers, but sometimes you just get it in twenty minutes, rather than one-hundred and twenty. An exception for me has always been the work of Jia Zhangke.
Jia’s A Touch of Sin was one of my favorites of 2013, its episodic approach to frustration and the crime it can lead to helping the runtime move from segment to segment. Ash seems to see Jia return to depicting crime and its implications, this time very much using the mafia as a backdrop for his characters’ romance. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and has since played other big names like Toronto and New York since.
Though it’s doubtful Ash will offer any extreme violence or pulse-pounding action setpieces, I’d urge genre fans to consider. There’s always something interesting in seeing a reserved and humanistic approach like Jia’s applied to tropes like organized crime or gangsters. And if not I’m sure we’ll get some poetic allegory about how sad things can get, and at least it looks pretty.
Ash is Purest White is scheduled for a limited release beginning March 15th.