Diao has written several scripts and acted in All Tomorrow's Parties, but this debut feature (made underground in Xi'an) suggests that he's a born director. A young man with no prospects begins impersonating a cop, which not only brings in useful income from bribes but also gives him the confidence to start dating the girl from the pirated CD shop - little suspecting that she, too, is leading a double life. It sounds like Gogol-style satire but Diao shoots it as social realism, maintaining enough distance to give it an edge of wry humour. He also has a fine, surrealist eye for visual incongruities, such as the large mirror perched on a rooftop to reflect healing sunlight down to the protagonist's ailing father. Jia Zhangke and Yu Lik-Wai are thanked as 'artistic advisors'. Probably no one involved realised that the plot echoes a classic of the old Shanghai film industry, Huang Zuolin's Phoney Phoenixes (1947).
Cast and crew
Liang Hongli Zeng Xueqiong Han Kai Qin Hua Wang Jijun