“Jia Zhangke’s undervalued I Wish I Knew charts history through actual emigrations, physical and cultural displacements. Jia uses a World Expo commission as an occasion to dig deeper into the vein he discovered in Useless and 24 City, and Shanghai becomes an epicenter of historical change…. Far more than 24 City, Jia’s film is a delicate web of associations between interviews and clips…. For instance, Jia shoots an interview with Hou Hsiao-hsien on a train moving through the mountains, an evocation of one of his finest films, Goodbye South, Goodbye. It is also an evocation of flight, one of the central preoccupations of this film, and of a fellow artist’s particular cinematic language, another side of which is revealed with the clip from Flowers of Shanghai, which prompts Hou to reflect on the eary 20th-century ‘innovation’ of falling in love, which in turn evokes the many tender romances alluded to throughout I Wish I Knew and the secrecy prompted by a century of political tumult. Jia’s cinematic language is always polyvalent, and his juxtapositions flower gradually across the span of the entire film.”

—Kent Jones, Film Comment July/August 2010