Ash is Purest White at HOME

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor

Ash is Purest White at HOME Manchester, Manchester 25 April — 12 May 2019 Tickets from £5.50 — Book now

Continuing his work in the epic mode, Chinese director Jia Zhanke’s latest film Ash is Purest White spans nearly two decades as it follows the fortunes of industrious mah-jong parlour proprietor Qiao — played by the filmmaker regular collaborator and wife Zhao Tao. As with Jia’s last film, Mountains May Depart, he utilises a split, elliptical structure to drop in with Qiao at several important periods in her life: as a fashionable small-town gangster’s girlfriend in 2001, a freshly released prisoner forced to commit petty cons, and finally home in 2018. Again, Jia uses formal signifiers to demarcate the different time periods, matching periods with different camera technologies and aspect ratios. One constant is the presence of Bin, moving from the position of Qiao’s boyfriend, to aloof ex and beyond as the decades pass.

Ash is Purest White is built as a melodrama and structured around the fortunes of Qiao, who holds our attention with a quietly virtuoso performance. But as many have noted, the true subject of the film is as much the modernisation of China as it is our bright heroine. From the wild and violent opening chapter through to the downbeat denouement, Jia provides a tour of China’s massive economic development and its effect on its people. There are grandly impressive grace notes, such as a boat ride through the under-construction Three Gorges region, and a hyper-physical mass-brawl that’s as tightly choreographed as any action movie, but this is a slow-burn epic that tracks a tumultuous recent national history through an individual saga of crime, betrayal, revenge and economic hardships.

Ash is Purest White at HOME Manchester, Manchester 25 April — 12 May 2019 Tickets from £5.50 Book now

What's on at HOME Manchester

Where to go near Ash is Purest White at HOME

Indian Tiffin Room, Manchester

Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
Music venue
The Ritz

The Ritz was originally a dance hall, built in 1928, has hosted The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Smiths and is still going strong as a gig venue now.

Event venue

Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

Bar or Pub
The Briton’s Protection

Standing on the corner of a junction opposite The Bridgewater Hall, The Briton’s Protection is Manchester’s oldest pub. It has occupied the same spot since 1795, going under the equally patriotic name The Ancient Britain.

What's on: Cinema

CinemaCheetham Hill
Jewish Culture Club

Meet new people, explore contemporary cultural works and learn about Jewish culture with Jewish Culture Club at Manchester Jewish Museum.

free entry

Culture Guides

Festival-goers at Green Island
Music in Manchester and the North

Gazing longingly towards the good times that will accompany the surely imminent sun, we take a look at the best music festivals coming up in Manchester and Salford.

Theatre in Manchester and the North
Theatre in Manchester and the North

Affecting contemporary performances and fresh, relevant takes on enduring classics, we pick out shows that help us scrutinise the world we live in.