Ash Is Purest White

Critics Consensus

Ash Is Purest White finds writer-director Zhangke Jia revisiting familiar themes while continuing to observe modern Chinese society with an urgent, empathetic eye.



Reviews Counted: 103

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User Ratings: 54


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Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

A tragicomedy initially set in the jianghu-criminal underworld-setting, ASH IS PUREST WHITE is less a gangster movie than a melodrama. With a three-part structure, it begins by following the quick-witted Qiao (Tao Zhao) and her mobster boyfriend Bin (Fan Liao) as they stake out their turf against rivals and upstarts in 2001 postindustrial Datong before expanding out into an epic narrative of how abstract forces shape individual lives, and continues Jia Zhangke's body of work as a record of 21st-century China and its warp-speed transformations.


Critic Reviews for Ash Is Purest White

All Critics (103) | Top Critics (27)

  • This is one of Zhangke's peak achievements: pure cinema, and a story of the underworld unlike anything you've seen before.

    Apr 5, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • But despite the volcanic metaphor of the film's title, it's a tale characterized not by violent release, but by a steady - and ultimately compassionate - spirit of resolve.

    Mar 29, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The narrative occasionally wavers but not Zhao's performance, her best yet.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A network of recurring motifs unifies these episodes, such as the gun, the trains, vast, unfinished construction projects, and a volcano which inspires the film's title.

    Mar 20, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Despite the grand scale, like all of Jia's works, Ash Is Purest White leaves questions of good and evil to the viewer-this isn't a philosophical story, but a personal one.

    Mar 17, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Do not be gulled by the slow pace of Jia's stories; they are ceaselessly alive to his country's haste, as it rushes to erase and to construct, and his sympathies tilt to those uncertain souls who simply can't keep up.

    Mar 15, 2019 | Full Review…

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