Lff 2015: ‘Mountains May Depart’ is a partly gripping relationship drama that overstays its welcome

Mountains May Depart

Written by Jia Zhangke

Directed by Jia Zhangke

China/Japan/France, 2015

Following the brilliant A Touch of Sin, auteur and Chinese master Jia Zhangke returns with a similarly structured, yet more narratively linked, portrait of China in the new millennium. Mountains May Depart is two-thirds of a gripping relationship drama that captures not only a China in constant flux, but also the universality of human experience. Unfortunately, in the last act the threads of the narrative begin to fray and fall apart, to the point where the strong final sequence is left weaker by the undercooked scenes that precede it.

Taking place over three distinct time periods, the film begins in the year 1999 at the dawn of the new millennium. Young friends Tao (Tao Zhao), Zhang (Yi Zhang) and Liangzi (Jing Dong Liang), like the rest of China, are happy and hopeful with what the new century may bring.
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