Little pocket thief Wu never got away from the streets like his friends did. He realises that he is alone, as his old buddy doesn't invite him for his wedding. When he falls in love with a hooker he is forced to think about his future. Can he break with his criminal past?
Xiao Wu also known as The Pickpocket is a 1997 Chinese movie directed by Jia Zhangke.
The film was the directorial debut of Jia Zhangke, one of the major figures of the so-called Sixth Generation of Chinese cinema and stars Wang Hongwei in the titular role along with Hao Hongjian and Zuo Baitao. Xiao Wu was filmed in the city of Fenyang in 16 mm.
Related: a conversation with Jia Zhangke
Pickpocket, Xiao Wu movie trailer
The film is set in 1997, with the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong being mentioned in the background. The place is a small provincial town, dirty and poor. Xiao Wu is one of a group of pickpockets, most of whom have moved on to become small traders and legal or semi-legal. One of them, formerly a close friend, is getting married and decides not to invite Xiao Wu, a reminder of the past. He drifts around, discontent with this, but makes no effort to change. He acquires a girlfriend, a prostitute who takes a liking to him, but she drops him when she gets some better prospect. He visits his poor-peasant family but ends up quarrelling with his parents and saying he won’t ever come back. Finally he gets arrested and we last see him handcuffed in the middle of the street with a disapproving crowd watching him. There is a big crack-down on crime, something mentioned at the start of the film, so his fate is likely to be harsh. [Wikipedia]