Unknown Pleasures


Time Out says

After the historical panorama of Platform, Jia's third feature (shot on DV) returns to the scale and style of Xiao Wu. Indeed, Xiao Wu himself (the inimitable Wang Hongwei) makes a couple of reappearances here, latterly back on the streets as a loan shark. But the central characters are Xiao Ji and Binbin, jobless 19-year-olds in Datong, fairly typical of China's current 'no future' generation. Xiao Ji (Wu) makes a shy play for the dancer Qiao Qiao (Zhao Tao, from Platform), undaunted by the fact that she's a gangster's mistress; Binbin (Zhao Weiwei) sings karaoke with a girl who's about to leave to study in Beijing. Eventually they get around to thinking about robbing a bank. Jia integrates both fact (the awarding of the Olympics to Beijing, ads for the Shanxi provincial lottery) and references to news events (the detonation of a block of flats by a laid-off worker) to build up a credible sense of the fast-changing present, but he's interested in a lot more than social reportage. As in the other films, his perspective is essentially spiritual: this lays bare the tao of contemporary China, like a doctor taking a pulse.

By: TR


Release details

113 mins

Cast and crew

Jia Zhangke
Jia Zhangke
Zhao Tao
Zhao Weiwei
Wu Qiong
Zhou Qingfeng
Wang Hongwei
Bai Ru
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