This first feature by China's hippest theatre director Meng Jinghui (Waiting for Godot and Accidental Death of an Anarchist) is full of visual and dramatic misjudgments, clumsy shifts in tone and show-off mise-en-scène. It's also original, interesting and strikingly well acted. Yun-Fei (Chen), a poet seemingly on the verge of a nervous breakdown, fetches up in a village on the outskirts of Beijing where his old friend Xiaoyang (Liao) is breeding genetically modified black chickens which lay black eggs. Yun-Fei is supposed to help with copy to promote the new product, but he becomes distracted by a strange, colour-blind girl (Qin, even more wonderful than she was in Durian, Durian) and by the contents of a pirated CD. The core concerns with the death of idealism, the collapse of moral values and the triumph of market economics are all pretty hackneyed, but the casting and performances lead the film into more stimulating moods and oneiric mysteries. Not too satisfying, then, but never boring - and a deal more defensible as cinema than the UK equivalent, Stephen Daldry's debut Billy Elliot.
Cast and crew