Jia Zhangke is the master chronicler of a rapidly changing China. In Ash Is Purest White, Zhao Tao plays the dancer Qiao, who falls in love with gangster boss Bin.
She saves him from being beaten to death by a rival gang. She refuses to betray him and is sent to gaol for it. Picking up where they left off after five years proves impossible. China has become unrecognizable, and Bin and his new wife have gone into business. The betrayal is crushing, but Qiao is strong and returns to the village of her birth. In the triptych’s finale, the wheel of fortune has reversed the roles again. People change too. This does not make Zhangke wildly enthusiastic