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Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)

Still Life (Sanxia Haoren) (2006)

tomatometer

90

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 49
Fresh: 44 | Rotten: 5

Zhangke spellbindingly captures the human cost of rapid industrialization in modern China.

90

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 2

Zhangke spellbindingly captures the human cost of rapid industrialization in modern China.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 3,508

My Rating

Movie Info

Jia Zhang Ke's haunting minimalist drama Still Life (aka Sanxia Haoren) takes as its focal point the real-life construction of the Three Gorges Hydro Project and it accompanying massive dam over the Yangtze River in China (allegedly the largest manmade dam in the world) -- a project that required engineers to flood the surrounding territories, including the two millennia-old city of Fengjie. Jia interweaves two stories in connection with the geographical transformation of that area. In the

Unrated,

Drama, Romance

Zhang Ke Jia

Nov 25, 2008

New Yorker Films

Watch It Now

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All Critics (52) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (5) | DVD (3)

More than a million people have been displaced in central China in the cause of generating electrical power to meet the needs of the future; Jia's flowing river of a picture washes over a few of them as they adjust to life's currents in the present.

November 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Simply one of the best films of last year, this year, or any year likely to come.

October 3, 2008 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An extraordinary glimpse into the psychology, subtext and austere reality of modern Chinese culture.

September 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Never has destruction looked more beautiful than the demolished buildings in Jia Zhang-ke's Still Life.

May 9, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Writer-director Jia Zhangke is a keen observer of the effects of the break-neck modernization that is stampeding China toward a future that no one can predict, control, or contain.

April 14, 2008 Full Review
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Jia Zhang-ke is a new auteur making his mark. Embraced abroad on the international festival circuit, if less welcome on screens in China, this writer-director works in a genre that could be called globalist.

February 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lyrical pic that brilliantly blends together documentary and fantasy to paint an evocative picture of modern China that is free from the usual Red Chinese propaganda.

September 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Jia draws a fine line between the corporeal and ethereal, a fitting means of highlighting the inherent unbelievability of one's way of life disappearing underwater.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Observant and acts as a record of the inevitability of change, even ones mandated not by nature but by the government.

June 16, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Playful and moody, naturalistic and surreal, Still Life is a film not to be missed.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

The despondent tone is lifted by moments of hope and, surprisingly, hilarity.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Still Life is a moody undertaking, with little action but plenty going on.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Jia Zhang Ke is perhaps the most distinctive director working in China now.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Still Life is all about these common people existing in a world that seems more and more unreal

October 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Director Jia Zhang-ke sees the urbanization of China through the eyes of the relocated laborers.

September 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Jia has taken supposedly naturalistic approach to filmmaking and, here at least, uses amateur actors and other fresh faces. A few of these newcomers are stiff and appear to be uncomfortable on camera.

July 23, 2008 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

The rising waters of the Yangtze become a melancholy backdrop for a diaspora in which people try to establish some connection in a place where their old lives literally are being washed away.

July 10, 2008
Salt Lake Tribune

Richly rewarding to those willing to roll with its deliberate rhythms.

June 27, 2008 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

Jia chose a great setting, but don't give him too much credit

June 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

As much an exploration of emotional and cultural problems in modern day China, as it is the tale of one man's lost love.

June 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

A dazzling package, filled with award-worthy cinematography and pacing.

May 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)

a gorgeous minimalist meditation on the effects of the three gorges dam project on the ancient chinese civilization in the area, focusing on two keenly observed characters searching for lost relatives. quiet moving drama, the best i've seen from jia zhang ke yet
December 8, 2012
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Still Life" starts with Han(Han Sanming) arriving in Fengjie as it is in the process of being prepared to be flooded to make way for the Three Gorges Dam. He is looking for the wife he has not seen in sixteen years, desperately wanting to see the daughter he has never known. But he receives news from her brother that she is currently out of town and the best thing to do is just to wait for her. In the interim, Han finds some demolition work.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]In the meantime, Shen Hong(Zhao Tao) also arrives in town looking for her husband who she has not heard from in two years.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]The central theme of "Still Life" is the price of progress. The bitter irony of the Three Gorges Dam is that it is likely to help other parts of the country more than the people who are being dislocated. Fengjie is definitely a fascinating setting for a movie and a good starting place for an exploration of forced mobility in Chinese society. So, while the movie handles the social criticism well, the drama is handled less successfully, as neither storyline is developed as well as they could have been.[/font]
February 11, 2008
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

The Three Gorges Damn saga has produced some very interesting fictional and non fictional accounts particularly on the displaced people of China. For great Chinese cinema go elsewhere but this isn't a bad way to pass some time.
April 14, 2009
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

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  • Still Life (UK)
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