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Ash Is Purest White - Film Review (Brisbane International Film Festival 2018)

Home > Brisbane > Cinema | Festivals | Film Reviews
by Lloyd Marken (subscribe)
Lloyd Marken is a freelance writer with a passion for the arts who has been published with Scenestr, Heavy, Buzz, X-Press, FilmInk and Weekend Notes. Visit my blog at
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As Her World Changes One Female Criminal Keeps Her Integrity
Ash Is Purest White Copyright m2k Films
The Brisbane International Film Festival continues this week, showcasing movies from around the world. There are five participating cinemas with Reading in Newmarket, the New Farm Six Cinemas and nearby Brisbane Powerhouse, Elizabeth Picture Theatre and Event Cinemas, both in the heart of the CBD, as well as the home base of GOMA at Southbank.

Ash Is Purest White is the perfect example of the type of film you can see at BIFF 2018. A Chinese crime drama that spans multiple time frames and covers the economic expansion of the country, through the prism of small-time criminals looking to feed off the opportunities prosperity presents. It's a love story first and foremost, but not in a romantic way - it's about the imprint of a man onto a woman of his strength and value system, even though he seldom proves capable of living up to it himself. It sounds heavy and with the Director's Cut playing at the film festival, it certainly does not rush itself, taking the time to observe small moments that will echo down through the years. Yet this is a fun movie too when revelling in the absurdity of human behaviour, like for example, when ballroom dancers perform a tribute at a crime boss's funeral.

Starring Zhao Tao (long-time collaborator and wife of director Jia Zhangke) as Zhao Ciao, she plays the girlfriend of a local enforcer. We will see her grow throughout; the middle section of the film, where she is released from prison and has to rely on her wits and run scams is the most entertaining. Jia Zhangke has a deft touch for revealing the quietness in the room when a painful conversation is taking place. The director also films a street fight that quietly builds in intensity and threat, proving simultaneously exhilarating and horrific. Some great make-up effects are used as well to show the gradual ageing of the characters. It is an entertaining character piece that shows a street-level view of the recent history of China.

Having screened last weekend, Ash is Purest White is playing this weekend, as well along with a wealth of cinematic offerings that you may only ever get to see on the big screen at BIFF.
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When: 1pm Saturday 20 October
Cost: Price $16.50 Concession $12.50
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