Mountains may depart (Shan he gu ren)

Jia Zhangke’s Mountains may depart starts in China in 1999, leaps to 2014, then into the future in Australia in 2025. The main character is a young woman called Shen Tao (Zhao Tao). Shen who lives in a small mining town, is being courted by two men : working-class Liangzi (Liang Jindong), and Zhang (Zhang Yi), a young business man from a well-to-do family. Shen is innocently smiling through, while the two men are jealously fighting for her attention. She chooses money but still wants to remain friend with Liangzi. In 2014 Zhang, now married and with a kid, has to borrow money from his old flame, Shen. He is suffering from cancer and needs the money to pay for the treatments. By then Shen is divorced and she gets another blow when her father dies. Dollar, her young son, comes to stay with her for the funeral. It does not seems like they have a good relationship. Jump to 2025. Dollar is living in Australia with his dad. Dollar (Dong Zijian), is a university student who has an affair with his much older teacher, Mia (Sylvia Chang). Dollar is thinking of going back to China to see his mother again. I like those types of structured screenplays, even though its meaning may not be evident to all. Nevertheless I still found the film compelling. Mountains may depart is about the state things in China then, now and in years to come. Zhangke films the early scenes with a smaller screen ratio than we’re used to, and then uses a wider ratio for the later time periods. And in the end, we take some comfort in seeing that some things will never change, no matter what happens.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Mountains may depart (Shan he gu ren)

Directed by:

Jia Zhangke

Screenplay by:

Jia Zhangke


Zhao Tao

Zhang Yi

Liang Jingdong

Dong Zijian

Sylvia Chang

127 min.

Rated Parental Guidance

In Mandarian, English and Cantonese with English subtitles.


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