Miami Film Festival

MIFF 2016: Mountains May Depart Delves Into a Futuristic China Where Love Is as Complex as Ever

Jia Zhangke is one of China’s great living filmmakers. A master of the ordinary, he delivers quality that never falters. After his rich and violent film A Touch of Sin, Zhangke returns with something more intimate, though no less critical of China’s social fabric.

Mountains May Depart follows a woman’s life from the beginning of the new millennium into the future of 2025. Tao is exquisitely played by Tao Zhao, the director’s longtime collaborator and wife. The character is a young woman who is at first torn between two lovers and then rides the wave of time through love and loss to a poetically inevitable conclusion.

Zhangke’s eighth feature film uses different frames for the different eras, similar to what filmmaker Wes Anderson did with The Grand Budapest Hotel. The color palette in Mountains May Depart also adjusts to the time period portrayed, from bright and primary to cool and steely. The only fault of the movie is its shift to English for the final section, which also focuses on Tao’s son. This abrupt change causes the film to lose some of its magic, but not enough to diminish its value as a highlight of the festival. 

Mountains May Depart
Starring Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang, Jin Dong Liang, Zijian Dong, Sylvia Chang, and Han Sanming. Written and Directed by Jia Zhangke. 131 minutes. Not rated. 6:45 p.m. Sunday, march 13, at Regal Cinemas South Beach 18 & IMAX, 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-674-6766; regmovies.com. Tickets cost $13 via miamifilmfestival.com.

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Hans Morgenstern has contributed to Miami New Times for too many decades, but he's grown to love Miami's arts and culture scene because of it. He is the chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, and most of his film criticism can be found on Independent Ethos (indieethos.com) if not in New Times.