Xiao Wu is a mature exploration of the gritty and downbeat existence of a pickpocket. Never employing cheap melodrama or hasty generalisations, Jia pulls out his sublime narrative skills to force us to reconsider our views on “wrongdoers” who are ostracised by society. Yet he never makes a patronising moral judgments of his lead character, a trap that many many films and tv serials fall into. Rather, he points towards modern life and alienation as sources of distraught and discontent and leaves the rest to us. And because this is cinema and not just ideology (huge fan of the latter in the former though), I must note that the cinematography is fantastic. It refuses to aesthecise any aspect of reality and renders the film seemingly cinema verite. This is Jia’s debut and I hope to see more soon.