Robert Bresson made this same film better and far earlier with his exquisite existentialist “Pickpocket” in 1959. “Xiao Wu” essentially treads the same ground, and has little to add.
The film’s best moment comes at the very end, which shows not only a scene of total social disapproval, but of utter small-town incomprehension at the fact that someone could even become a thief, much less commit any kind of crime.
The film was shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm, yet manages to look fairly professional. I imagine that making an independent feature in China is far more difficult than in the United States, so I applaud filmmaker Jia Zhang Khe’s initiative and determination