Soul on a String

A beguiling combination of Western and Buddhist parable, Zhang Yang’s latest is a beautiful and thought-provoking work which suffers from being overlong and narratively unfocused

Film Review by Michael Jaconelli | 19 Feb 2017
  • Soul on a String
Film title: Soul on a String
Director: Zhang Yang
Starring: Choenyi Tsering, Kimba

Adapted from two novels by Tibetan writer Tashi Dawa, Soul on a String is the latest from Chinese director Zhang Yang and a companion piece to his previous film Paths of the Soul. Set in the Tibetan wilderness, the film follows an outlaw named Tabei (Kimba) as he attempts to take a holy stone to the sacred Palm Print Mountain. On his trail are two brothers who are seeking vengeance for their father’s death at the hands of Tabei’s father, two black market dealers and a writer who seems to be tracing Tabei’s path from the future as he writes the story of his journey.

While these initially disparate threads are eventually drawn together, for much of the runtime they needlessly slow the films’ narrative and obfuscate the characters’ relationships, testing both their resolve and audiences’ patience.

Soul on a String screened at Glasgow Film Festival

Read more about Glasgow Film Festival in The CineSkinny – in print at Glasgow Film Festival venues and online at