Two boys living in Beijing, one a migrant from the country, the other an urban schoolkid, are brought together by joint ownership of a bicycle.
Wang Xiao-Shuai's film is a subtle blend of socio-political metaphor and street-realism. The iconic Chinese bicycle is the literal vehicle from which it tells the tale of two youngsters disputing ownership whilst using their bike as transport, instrument of courtship, status symbol and more.
A stunning Beijing backdrop is used to striking effect, giving an almost voyeuristic glimpse into the fabric that holds together China's capital. Solid, believable performances were rightly honoured at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival, and a wonderfully understated score by Wang Feng provides the perfect accompaniment to the languid drama.
Beijing Bicycle could at times do with cranking up a gear, but remains a riveting piece of pure cinema.
Reviewed by Justin Bowyer