After 40 years' loyal service on the railroad as a mechanical engineer, Wang Kangmei (Fan) has retired. Though his wife (Cheng Shubo) is in hospital and his income is now a fraction of what it was, Wang remains resolutely optimistic. A modern version of Lu Xun's classic Chinese innocent Ah Q, Wang has never questioned any aspect of his life or his country's history. He reads the official papers, listens to radio news programs and goes about his daily routine with bluff confidence. And he's determined to find some kind of work, deeming himself still employable at age 55. Majority of the pic is set during the following day, as Wang moves around the city, meeting various people. Though the structure is basically episodic, the film never lingers too long on any one vignette, and the tight editing by Ma Yanyan and helmer Zhang's ear for natural dialogue make for a gently flowing portrait, not only of Wang himself, but of a whole human landscape in an average, ramshackle town in northeast China. (Pic shot in Ji'an, in Jilin province.) First up, Wang has his fortune told by a woman with a roadside computer (Liang Shuang); next, he visits a shoeshine lady (Xiang Yan); then, he takes over for a while from a pedicabber (Guan Xiaoping) whose rig is fitted with a stereo music center; and finally, he tries auditioning for a local opera troupe. Each of these encounters ends badly, with Wang sometimes not even realizing it's ended badly. But he carries on, finally visiting his infirm father (Zhao Naixun), who secretly worries about him. Day is also peppered with trips to his wife's bedside.