Still Life (4 stars)

Still Life


(15) 109min
(BFI DVD retail)

Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke (Platform, Unknown Pleasures) hails from the tradition of Asian long-take, observational masters that include Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang, but Zhang-ke’s work often has a greater sense of historical immediacy. Indeed it is so immediate here that it is geographical as Zhang-ke follows a miner and a nurse as they look for their absent spouses in Fengjie – just as the entire town is being demolished and relocated prior to its deliberate flooding as part of the Three Gorges Dam project. Shot on actual locations with largely non-professional actors, this is no gritty social tract but a quiet, contemplative, demanding and significant work. Extras include and critic and Asian cinema historian Tony Rayns excellent commentary and Zhange-ke’s documentary Dong, shot at the same time.

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