Writer: Zhangke Jia (Screenplay)
Starring: Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang, Jing Dong Liang, Zijian Dong, Sylvia Chang, Sanming Han
Plot: The life of Tao, and those close to her, is explored in three different time periods: 1999, 2014, and 2025.
Runtime: 2 Hours 11 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Heart-Breakingly Wonderful
Story: Mountains May Depart starts in 1999, two friends Jinsheng (Zhang) and Liangzi (Liang) are both in love with their friend Tao (Zhao), though both are from very different backgrounds, Jinsheng is set for a successful career as the owner of the mine, while Liangzi is set to work around the mines.
When Tao chooses Jinsheng to marry, it is the friendship with Liangzi that must suffer as he becomes distant from the two forcing him to leave, Jinsheng and Tao starting a family.
We move to the 2014 where Liangzi is still a miner, he has a family of his own now, but he is sick, needing to borrow money for his treatment, needing to return to his old friends. We continue to follow our three characters stories focusing on Tao mostly in the year 2025 to see how things change, but friendship can hold people together even with decades apart.
Thoughts on Mountains May Depart
Characters – Tao is the central character we follow, we see how she must choose between two friends, knowing she would leave one broken. In the middle chapter of the story we see how her life hasn’t gone as planned, separated from husband and worse, her son. This is a wonderfully created character, that must go through so many different emotions, make choices that will break her, but are right for the people in her life. Jinsheng is the successful businessman that won Tao’s heart, only to divorce her moving away from her life with their child. Liangzi is the other friend, the manual worker that is never going to get out of the mining world. He leaves a broken man only to return with his own family, sick in need of support from his friends.
Performances – Tao Zhao in the leading role gives us a brilliant performance, we feel each emotion she must go through, the difficulty she shows in the decisions she makes. Jing Dong Liang is the next best performer over the three leads, you can see his heartbreak and desperation in his character. Yi Zhang is great too, but I feel we didn’t get to see enough of his characters motivation through the film. the supporting cast are all fantastic too, we see the difficult decisions they must make to find their way.
Story – The story follows Tao in three different years of her life, the first is just after university, the second is the death of her father and her child going to a new country, the third is the direction her life went after that moment. We do also follow other characters through the different stages of their lives, be it the two friends and the son that doesn’t know where to take his life. This movie could easily have comparisons to ‘Lion’ which does have a different reason for the separate, but the time jumps do show us the difficult for the child and the parents.
Romance – The romance in the film shows the decision Tao must make, the consequences and the path her son takes without her, for the most part this is more about the drama of the choices Tao and her friends make over the romantic side of things.
Settings – The settings show us the different worlds our characters are living in, moving to and the lives people can have.
Final Thoughts – This is a wonderful drama that shows us the difficult decisions that needed to be made from these characters, they seem to be the right ones but the hardest to make.
Overall: Brilliant drama that will play on the emotions.