Still Life (Sanxia Haoren) (2020) - Rotten Tomatoes

Still Life (Sanxia Haoren) (2020)



Critic Consensus: Zhangke spellbindingly captures the human cost of rapid industrialization in modern China.

Tickets & Showtimes

Still Life (Sanxia Haoren) Photos

Movie Info

Still Life, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2006, is a unique hybrid of documentary and fiction. Great changes have come to the town of Fengjie due to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam: Countless families that had lived there for generations have had to relocate. Fengjie's old town, which has a 2000-year history, has been torn down and submerged forever. There are still things that need to be salvaged and yet there are also things that must be left behind. Such life-changing choices face both Sanming, a miner traveling to Fengjie in search of his ex-wife of sixteen years, and Shen Hong, a nurse who has come to Fengjie to look for her husband who she hasn't seen in two years. Both Sanming and Shen will find who they're looking for, but in the process they too will have to decide what is worth salvaging in their lives and what they need to let go.


Tao Zhao
as Shen Hong
Han Sanming
as Han Sanming
Li Zhubin
as Guo Bing
Wang Hongwei
as Wang Dongming
Zhou Lin
as Huang Mao
Ma Lizhen
as Missy Ma
View All

News & Interviews for Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)

Critic Reviews for Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (19)

More than a million people have been displaced in central China in the cause of generating electrical power to meet the needs of the future; Jia's flowing river of a picture washes over a few of them as they adjust to life's currents in the present.

November 24, 2008 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Jia Zhang Ke is perhaps the most distinctive director working in China now.

October 18, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

An extraordinary glimpse into the psychology, subtext and austere reality of modern Chinese culture.

September 26, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Never has destruction looked more beautiful than the demolished buildings in Jia Zhang-ke's Still Life.

May 9, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Writer-director Jia Zhangke is a keen observer of the effects of the break-neck modernization that is stampeding China toward a future that no one can predict, control, or contain.

April 14, 2008

Jia Zhang-ke is a new auteur making his mark. Embraced abroad on the international festival circuit, if less welcome on screens in China, this writer-director works in a genre that could be called globalist.

February 22, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)

Jia Zhangke's STILL LIFE is a prime example of the effectiveness of observational filmmaking and how the weight of the subject alone (and its themes) can not only propel but impact the drama forward. Although it seemingly presents two separate narratives following two different characters traversing a bleak but exquisitely framed developmental atmosphere (small villages directly affected by the Three Gorges Dam project that make for cinematic locations), the film unfolds with care and precision by never forcing dramatic elements and allowing the viewers to learn, feel, and decide as they go; both characters go about their way with a sense of clustered urgency as we learn the ways in which the society has impacted their personal lives, relationships, and families - we know and see just as much as we need to (a credit to a superbly tight script). This is a film that rewards the viewer once the credit rolls - allowing the punch to reveal itself gradually as the grounded, painful, and raw message sinks in. It is, in fact, a devastating realization, and likewise a great film, that is bolstered by Jia's patient approach, unintrusive cinematography and storytelling, and bold commentary on a specific aspect of his country's real-life issues.

Sheldon Chau
Sheldon Chau

Super Reviewer


a gorgeous minimalist meditation on the effects of the three gorges dam project on the ancient chinese civilization in the area, focusing on two keenly observed characters searching for lost relatives. quiet moving drama, the best i've seen from jia zhang ke yet

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


The Three Gorges Damn saga has produced some very interesting fictional and non fictional accounts particularly on the displaced people of China. For great Chinese cinema go elsewhere but this isn't a bad way to pass some time.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Still Life (Sanxia Haoren) Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features