Xiao Wu (aka Pickpocket)

2020 4K Restored Version
1998|China|DCP|113 min|Putonghua, Jin (Chinese & English subtitles)
27.5.2023 (Sat) 14:00 Broadway Cinematheque
31.5.2023 (Wed) 19:35 Broadway Cinematheque

Director: Jia Zhangke
Cast: Wang Hongwei, Hao Hongjian, Zuo Baitao, Ma Jinrei

Jia Zhangke’s remarkable full-length debut takes place in his hometown of Fenyang, Shanxi province. In this small county town, the market economy is in full swing, with constant demolitions and reconstructions, and everyone is out to make money. Xiao Wu, a petty thief who lacks ambition, finds himself shunned by his former friend who has become successful entrepreneur. Despite a crackdown on crime by the police, he remains indifferent to the risks, and is obsessed by a brief moment of solace in a love affair that seems too good to be true. Jia’s sharp style is apparent throughout the film, with non-professional actors delivering naturalistic performances, and the concise 16mm cinematography capturing the banal yet stimulating reality of the town. The use of dialect, pop music, dialogue from Hong Kong films, and noise create an overlapping and fragmented soundscape that pulsates with chaotic energy, heightening the sense of despair felt by the small people who are constantly crushed by the times.