Jia Zhangke’s Latest Film, “A Touch Of Sin,” Looks Spectacular

One of our favorite Chinese directors just released a new film, and by all indications, it’s excellent. Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin, starring his wife Zhao Tao, is a Palme d’Or contender at Cannes, where it premiered on Thursday. The 133-minute film has alternatively been described as “a corrosive depiction of Chinese society” (LA Times) and “a scathing portrait of China’s economic boom” (Globe and Mail).

The Chinese, unsurprisingly, have been abuzz about it as well. According to Hollywood Reporter:

One Weibo user described the film as seeming “very audacious,” adding: “Judging from the trailer, it contains a lot of critical scenes based in reality that were created with no fear of the censorship system.”

The film description:

The film follows four separate people navigating their lives across four Chinese provinces. An angry miner revolts against the corruption of his village leaders. A migrant worker at home for the New Year discovers the infinite possibilities a firearm can offer. A pretty receptionist at a sauna is pushed to the limit when a rich client assaults her. A young factory worker goes from job to job trying to improve his lot in life. Four people, four different provinces. A reflection on contemporary China: an economic giant slowly being eroded by violence.

There’s no chance we’re missing this one.

    3 Responses to “Jia Zhangke’s Latest Film, “A Touch Of Sin,” Looks Spectacular”

      • SeaHorse

        Not necessarily, the Chinese do have a taste for tears-streaming-down-your-face-hate-my-life-movies. Pretty Big Feet, Red Sourghum, and if we go to Hong Kong that horrible PTU movie No Way Out. Post Modern Life of my Aunt is another crappy one for the same reason as PTU, no plot, just the main character constantly being shat on. Pretty Big Feet I liked though, addressed social issues without making the other party look like pitiful animals. Still Life was screened uncensored I hear.

        The real test of this is the true story it’s based on has to do with a high profile case involving government corruption. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they do censor it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t. The CPC censors things on a coin flip, maybe two if you’re a really famous director.

        • Zhang Fei

          I totally agree with your assessment. Tragic movies are fine to the censors, so long as it is about the past. Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige got their start that way – nowadays, writing about the horrors of imperialism and the successive disasters during Mao’s reign isn’t a big deal. But film a movie about contemporary ills and watch how fast the harmonization happens.

          Then again, maybe this will work in Zhang Jiake’s favor. Getting banned can give you big film festival buzz – that’s actually precisely what happened to Zhang and Chen. Underground commerce in the Mainland is what can overturn the censors’ will from time to time.


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