Ten years ago, the emergence of 'Fifth Generation' film makers like Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou alerted the world to the wealth of talent coming out of China.
Now the focus has shifted to a 'Sixth Generation' of directors who have swapped the period opulence of "Raise the Red Lantern" and "Farewell My Concubine" for more intimate narratives set in China's major cities.
Reminiscent of the Italian neo-realist classic "Bicycle Thieves", "Beijing Bicycle" is the simple story of Guei (Lin), a lad from the country who travels to the capital in search of work.
Finding a job as a delivery boy, he saves up to buy the mountain bike his company loans him. When it's stolen, just as he's about to finish paying for it, he has no choice but to find it again.
The boy's tale is juxtaposed with that of Jian (Bin), the student into whose hands the bike has fallen. For him it is more of a status symbol, and a means of impressing his fellow pupils. Each lad has a legitimate claim to the wheels, so they reluctantly decide to share them.
It may be slight, but the insights Wang Xiaoshuai's drama offers into his homeland are worth a dozen textbooks.
The non-professional actors are first rate, while the violent conclusion is as harrowing as it is unexpected. For all that, this slow-moving tale could have been half an hour shorter and made its points no less effectively.
In Mandarin with English subtitles.