Movie Review – Mountains May Depart (2015)
This Chinese film by acclaimed director Jia Zhangke looks at three distinct time periods. The first, 1999 China, shows main characters and best friends Tao, Jinsheng, and Liangzi in a youthful and competitive love triangle during an exciting period of cultural development in China. The second section of the film, 2014 China, shows a much darker time period in the life of Tao, as she tries to stay connected to her son Dollar after a bitter divorce. The third section of the film, in a futuristic 2025 Australia, shows Dollar, now as a young man, trying to understand his place in the world.
Although this film had a couple of flaws, one must give credit to Director and Screenwriter Jia Zhangke for a creative and powerful film that stays with the viewer long after its complete.
The main actor in the film, Tao Zhao, does an incredible job in her role as the female protagonist, leading us on a powerful story, complete with a variety of strong emotions throughout. She excels by providing us with youthful excitement and energy in part one of the film, and then a more painful portrayal of regret, sadness, and grief in later stages of the film. She does a fantastic job at portraying the complex emotions of the character, and is truly successful.
Other actors in the film also do a fine job in their assigned roles. Although at times it seems the storyline is a little farfetched or scattered, particularly as we move through the plot, this is more the fault of the script as opposed to the fine acting performances of all involved.
The music in the film is fantastic, with Go West from the Pet Shop Boys being used in an excellent, metaphorical way. Furthermore, more classical and modern Chinese music is utilized in the right places to help generate emotion and set the film in China.
The cinematography in China, and later in Australia, is fantastic, with Director Jia Zhangke doing a masterful job at setting a mood and tone that feels right for the story being told.
Although there are elements in the film which feel slightly out of place, and although the film feels slightly drawn out in places, the film is still a success of creativity and powerful messages of love, hope, regret, and the steady beat of time.
Overall: 4 stars out of 5 stars.