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.

99%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 146

67%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 192

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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.

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Critic Reviews for Ash Is Purest White

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (145) | Rotten (1)

  • Zhao Tao just gives this powerhouse performance. It's so understated and her work -- and the film as a whole -- really do accumulate in their emotional resonance.

    September 23, 2019 | Full Review…
  • As a gangster morality tale "Ash" is pretty mild; as a picture of China and Qiao's struggle it's much better.

    June 21, 2019 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Qiao scams philandering men, seemingly driven by the desire to punish Bin. And yet the film, slowly, reveals more melancholic aims, guiding a low-key finale towards a mournful evocation of what China has lost on the way towards modernisation.

    April 26, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • The story is so richly novelistic the temptation is just to synopsise - but that risks not only spoilers, but failing to convey how much wonder is conjured beyond the plot, the stellar performance of Zhao, the insta-futuristic landscapes...

    April 25, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Fascinating in its balance between microcosm and aerial view, but the performances definitely raise more emotional heat.

    April 24, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • This is one of Zhangke's peak achievements: pure cinema, and a story of the underworld unlike anything you've seen before.

    April 6, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ash Is Purest White

  • Sep 24, 2019
    Functions as sort of an anti-genre gangster film with a melancholy tone and an emphasis on the hard ways the passage of time changes people, countries, and landscapes. Tao Zhao's performance is incredible.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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