A Fool | Chicago Reader

A Fool

Based on a popular Chinese novella, this 2014 directorial debut by actor Chen Jianbin reveals a humanist core beneath layers of dry irony and cynicism. A shepherd (Jianbin) whose son has been arrested turns to a local gangster (Wang Xuebing of Black Coal, Thin Ice) for help, though this effort is complicated by a simpleminded tramp to whom the protagonist showed a speck of kindness at the outset. At first the shepherd is annoyed by the tramp's attachment to him and his Muslim wife, but eventually he realizes that the fool has more decency than most people he knows, including the public officials who don't seem to care if the disadvantaged live or die. Jianbin's mordant satire was denied release in China after Xuebing was arrested on drug possession charges, part of a state-sanctioned crackdown on public figures engaging in immoral behavior. In Mandarin with subtitles.

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