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.



Total Count: 140


Audience Score

User Ratings: 96
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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 (140) | Top Critics (30)

  • As a gangster morality tale "Ash" is pretty mild; as a picture of China and Qiao's struggle it's much better.

    Jun 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.

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

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Fascinating in its balance between microcosm and aerial view, but the performances definitely raise more emotional heat.

    Apr 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.

    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…

Audience Reviews for Ash Is Purest White

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