Unknown Pleasures

Watch Unknown Pleasures

  • NR
  • 2002
  • 1 hr 53 min
  • 6.8  (2,507)
  • 61

Unknown Pleasures is a 2002 Chinese film directed by Jia Zhangke. The movie is set in the post-industrial city of Datong, in North China, and it follows the lives of two disaffected teenagers, Bin Bin (Zhao Wei Wei) and Xiao Ji (Wu Qiong), who spend their days drifting around the city and dreaming of a better life. Bin Bin and Xiao Ji are best friends, but they come from different backgrounds. Bin Bin's father is a government official, while Xiao Ji's parents are small-time criminals. Despite their different upbringings, they share a common sense of hopelessness and boredom with their lives, which they spend hanging out in arcades, watching movies, and riding around on Bin Bin's motorcycle.

One day, in a desperate attempt to escape their dreary existence, they decide to steal a gun and embark on a crime spree. Their robberies are poorly planned and often end in failure, but they are motivated by a desire for excitement and a sense of rebellion against the world around them.

As they continue their criminal activities, Bin Bin and Xiao Ji's relationship becomes increasingly strained. Xiao Ji begins to question their actions and their ultimate goals, while Bin Bin becomes more reckless and unpredictable. Their differences come to a head when Bin Bin falls in love with Qiao Qiao (Tao Zhao), a beautiful karaoke hostess who is also struggling to find meaning in her life.

Unknown Pleasures is a haunting and thought-provoking film that explores the themes of youth, alienation, and societal decay. Director Jia Zhangke presents a stark and almost documentary-like view of life in modern China, with its empty factories, crumbling buildings, and the constant hum of construction.

The film's characters are portrayed with a raw and honest intensity that captures the desperation and despair of their lives. Bin Bin and Xiao Ji are particularly memorable, with their sense of frustration and disillusionment palpable in every scene. Zhao Wei Wei and Wu Qiong give powerful performances, conveying a profound sense of emptiness and longing that lingers long after the film has ended.

The movie also offers a commentary on the broader changes taking place in China, particularly the impact of economic reforms and globalization on its people. There is a sense of loss and disorientation in the characters' lives, as they struggle to adapt to a rapidly changing world where traditional values and social structures have been upended.

Despite its serious themes, Unknown Pleasures is not without its moments of humor and lightness. The film's soundtrack, which features a mix of Chinese pop songs and western rock music, injects a sense of energy and vitality into the story. There are also moments of tenderness, particularly in the relationship between Bin Bin and Qiao Qiao, which offers a glimmer of hope amid the bleakness of their surroundings.

In conclusion, Unknown Pleasures is a striking and powerful film that offers a searing portrayal of youth in modern China. Director Jia Zhangke's unflinching gaze at the lives of Bin Bin and Xiao Ji, and his commentary on the larger social changes taking place in the country, make for a deeply affecting and thought-provoking movie.

Unknown Pleasures
Unknown Pleasures doesn't appear to be available from any streaming services.
Add this movie to your Watchlist to get notified when it's available.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 53 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (2,507)
  • Metascore