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Ash is the Purest White

(China). Story of Qiao, a young woman whose boyfriend Bin is a gangster (well, I am not sure of the exact translation – he kind of runs an underworld gambling operation and seems to perform “dirty work” for his boss). One day, Bin is viciously attacked by a pack of young men, and Qiao fires warning shots in the air to scare them off. She is arrested and spends the next 5 years in prison. The story is told in three parts: The first, as Bin’s girlfriend before she is arrested; 5 years later, her release and post-arrest life; and about 10 years after that. I really enjoyed the film. The best thing, by far, is the lead actress who plays Qiao. She is mesmerizing, and I found that I was completely absorbed into her and her story. The acting overall is great, as is the beautiful cinematography that captures a changing China over the 10 years of the story. The film is full of rich symbolism and also has a lot of humor woven into its screenplay. Thumbs up for a beautiful film (and a great actress) and an interesting story of this woman’s struggle to keep moving forward. I wished that the middle part of the story was better developed – it felt rushed and omitted some things that probably would have given the overall film a grittier feel. (2019; 4 Stars)

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