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Unknown Pleasures Review

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Two Chinese teenage slackers are tempted by Western vices

★★★★★

There's plenty going on in the background of Jia Zhang-ke's third feature, much of it revolving around China's desire for acceptance as a player on the world stage while struggling to prevent Western influences - and the social ills that invariably accompany them - from subsuming local culture and undermining Communist Party control.

But too little happens to slackers Wu Qiong and Zhao Wei Wei to arouse our curiosity, even though Jia's restless digital camera pursues them to some of the most revealingly rundown parts of industrial Datong.

They're briefly tempted by the shifty dealings of Wang Hong Wei (from Jia's debut, Xiao Wu), but indolence wins out and ultimately costs Zhao the companionship of studious Zhou Qing Feng and Wu his chance with Zhao Tao, a wannabe dancer stuck in a dead-end dependency on a petty chiseller. Fitfully fascinating, but lacking consistent focus.

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