Mountains May Depart
1999, 2014 and 2025 provide the historic and futuristic backdrops for Jia Zhangke’s ambitious take on the open wound of feelings that hardly matter anymore and the selling off of the Chinese identity in the Delicious New World. "Has anyone got a plaster?" someone once asked in Jia's The World. No, being the answer.
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.