Xiao Wu review

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

A low-budget, independent feature from China, Xiao Wu demonstrates that there's more to that country's cinema than lavish period melodramas.

Written and directed by Jia Zhang Ke, it focuses on a pickpocket (Wang Hong Wei) in the dusty provincial town of Fenyang. Time appears to be running out for this petty thief: his best friend has become a model businessman and is getting married, the police have announced a clamp-down on criminals, and Mei Mei, his favourite girl at the karaoke bar, has disappeared. That his family life is full of arguments doesn't help.

Xiao Wu is partly a socially realistic account of a society in thrall to materialistic and entrepreneurial values. Yet it's also a probing character study of an individual who undergoes a series of setbacks, which are destined to climax in public humiliation. The pacing of Xiao Wu may be relaxed, but the film's cumulative impact is palpable.

More info

Available platformsMovie

The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, News Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Emily Murray. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.