Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 19th, 2016
BluRay released: July 12th, 2016
Approximate running time: 126 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 / 1.85:1 Widescreen / 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin / English, DTS-HD Stereo Mandarin / English
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: Two Childhood friends Liangzi and Zhang have a falling out when they both fall in love with the same girl Tao. Shortly thereafter Zhang marries Tao and they have a son named Dollar. fifteen years later and Tao is no longer married Zhang who has moved to Shanghai with their son Dollar. Flash forward to the near future Dollar now is a grown man living in Australia who has fully immersed himself into their way of life. With his Chinese heritage now just a distance memory from his all but forgotten past. Dollar with the aid of his Chinese born teacher he tries to reconnect with the past he has neglected.
This film’s narrative is broken down into three sections, all which take place in three moments in time, 1999, 2014 and 2025. And though the film’s narrative is well constructed and straight forward. With the third and final act the film takes an unconventional turn by replacing its protagonist Tao with a new protagonist Dollar. Fortunately, this changing of protagonists from Tao to Dollar becomes a distant distraction since Tao’s presence can be felt looming throughout the final act as her son retraces his way back to where he came from.
As mentioned before there are three sections which make up this films narrative and each one of these sections are distinctively different form the other. With opening act being the act that establishing who everyone is and what their motions are? Followed a middle act which revolves how the choices they have made have affected the characters’ lives. And the final act bringing things full circle by reconnecting to the things that were once held dear.
Besides a superbly realized narrative with well-defined characters. Another area where this film often excels is when it comes to its visuals. Key moments visuals include the film’s opening moments where Tao dances to The Pet Shop Boys Go West. This is just one of many moments where music and image collide to provide something that goes much deeper then what is occurring onscreen. Another standout moment includes the scenes following the death Tao’s father. And a third powerful moment visual is a scene where Dollar’s teacher reintroduces him to a Cantonese song that he mother used to play him and before that his father played it for his mother when he was courting her. The song in question is the theme from The Killer sung by Sally Yeh.
Without a doubt this film’s greatest asset is Tao Zhao in the role of this film’s protagonist Shen Tao. Her character exhibits a wide range of emotions and she delivers a heartfelt that is utterly convincing. Other standout performances include Zijian Dong in the role of a grown up Dollar who now lives in Australia and Sylvia Chang (Eat Drink Man Woman, 20 30 40) in the role of Dollar’s much older teacher named Mia who also migrated from China. Ultimately Mountains May Depart is an extraordinary melodrama about the human condition.
Mountains May Depart comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This film is shot in three aspect ratio’s, 1.33:1, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. The image looks crisp, colors and flesh tones look accurate and black levels remain strong throughout. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression. It should be noted that some scenes from the first segment which takes place in 1999 are taken from a video source and these does not look as good as the bulk of the transfers does.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin / English and a DTS-HD stereo mix in Mandarin / English. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear, balanced and when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack they are well represented. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Topics discussed in the interview with Zhangke Jia include, the role music plays in his films, Pet Shop Boys Go West and Sally Yeh’s The Main theme from The Killer and the role they play in Mountains May Depart, how technology in modern society has contributed to a lack of intimacy, the meaning behind Mountains May Depart as the title of the film, the importance one’s how town’s plays in regards to the narratives from his films, Tao Zhao and her contributions to the film and how the film originally had only two acts and whey he added a third act.
Rounding out the extras is a twelve-page booklet with an essay about the film titled Coming Home written by Aliza Ma and information about cast & crew. Overall Mountains May Depart gets a first rate release from Kino Lorber.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber on DVD.