A Fool (China, 2014) [NYAFF 2015]


In his directorial debut, actor Chen Jianbin plays Latiaozi, an honest goat farmer. One day, in a simple act of kindness and compassion, he gives a young homeless man some food. The youth, who is filthy, apparently mentally retarded and who wears a large broken red visor on his head, follows Latiaozi home. Fearful that the idiot will freeze to death, Latiaozi and his wife reluctantly agree that he should be allowed to sleep in the hut with the goats.

This development further complicates the life of Latiaozi and his wife, whose son is in jail for reasons not specified. They have already given “$50,000” (most certainly a subtitle error, as there’s no way they could have amassed that amount in U.S. currency) to an intermediary to get the son’s sentence reduced. Thus far they have nothing to show for the money they’ve spent.

The couple’s efforts to find the young man’s family ultimately bring them in contact with a parade of individuals, each of whom claims that the boy is their relative. Latiaozi’s best intentions turn against him as he and his wife are beset with numorous financial claims from these greedy individuals.

Part drama, part black comedy, A Fool raises the question: in a world of greed and grifting, is it a kind, generous, and honest person who’s actually the fool? Providing no concrete answer, this well-made and though-provoking movie invites each viewer to reach his or her own conclusion.

A Fool will be the first film shown at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival at 6pm on Friday June 26th at the Walter Reade Theater. Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York, this screening is part of Hong Kong Panorama, a special focus portion of NYAFF.