Zhang’s first feature, ‘Tang Poetry’, wasn't an easy watch, but this, his third, is considerably more accessible, despite a leisurely, laconic narrative hat’s entirely appropriate to its setting: a farmer’s yurt on the lonely steppes of Mongolia. It chronicles the encounter between said shepherd – recently abandoned by a wife more interested in tending to their child’s incipient deafness than in his obsessive planting of saplings to offset the desertification of the region – and a young woman and her son, who appear out of the blue, in flight from North Korea to South,and stay awhile. With no shared language, it’s a fraught meeting, observed with tenderness, droll wit, a strong sense of landscape, and much play with camera movement and off-screen space. Good music, too.
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