Critic Reviews



Based on 23 critic reviews provided by
Jia probably made a mistake directing the 1999 sequence in such an over-the-top and stilted tone (it also feels more like 1989 than the turn of the century), but the rest of the film is incredibly well done.
The Guardian
The pure work-in-progress energy of all this is exhilarating, and if the resulting movie is flawed in its final act, then this is a flaw born of Jia’s heroic refusal to be content making the same sort of movie, and his insistence on trying to do something new with cinema and with storytelling.
While that awkward final section shows Jia's lack of assurance working in English, the misstep is instantly erased in a beautiful concluding sequence that reaffirms the film's aching depth of feeling and extraordinary sense of place.
Its generation-spanning story has serious power, and, in its masterful opening chapter and final sequence, brushes against greatness.
If “Mountains” feels a touch schematic at times, and awkward in its third-act English-language scenes, the cumulative impact is still enormously touching, highlighted by Jia’s rapturous image-making and a luminous central performance by the director’s regular muse (and wife), Zhao Tao.
Slant Magazine
It's the first segment that feels the most fleshed out, for how well it presents characters with actual lives as compared to the thinly veiled talking points of the film's second half.
As every section seeks to deepen and complicate the basic message of Mountains May Depart - that the incredible speed of technology and society has its prices and dangers - and the failure of the final section dilutes where it should intensify.
Using his characters as pawns on the chessboard of history, Mountains May Depart culminates in a nostalgic future where the Chinese look back for the identity they have lost.
Village Voice
It's a powerful idea in the abstract, the culmination of three acts that cover a 25-year catastrophe with a time-lapse breathlessness. It just never leaves the abstract and becomes flesh.
The Playlist
Zhangke's always had a throughline regarding economic inequality and the 21st century-style Chinese capitalism in his work, but Mountains May Depart might be the director's defining statement on the way that his nation has changed over the past few decades. If only he were a touch subtler about it.

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