Mountains May Depart
Shan he gu ren
Every new Jia Zhangke film since Platform (2000) has asked: what does China’s rapid economic expansion mean for Chinese people’s relationships? His answers have never been optimistic, but the psychopathology in A Touch of Sin (2013) suggested the country is teetering on the brink.
Mountains May Depart (2015) can also be viewed as a diagnosis of China’s state of mind, yet in spite of the epic scope that depicts the characters in changing aspect ratios in their past, present and future, it is a remarkably intimate film. Starting in 1999, to the sound of Pet Shop Boys' Go West, we gain insight into the life and loves of Shen Tao, a dance instructor who attempts to secure her future by marrying a rich businessman. The tepid relationship with their son Dollar, who - in 2025 - lives in Australia and hardly speaks Chinese anymore, illustrates the disappearance of close mutual ties. "View it as a warning", says the maker.