Building on the themes established in Egg and Stone—in particular, the alienating circumstances of “left-behind children” and the disenfranchisement of women in contemporary China—The Foolish Bird focuses on a highschooler named Lynn (Yao Honggui) who lives with her grandparents in Meicheng, a small Hunanese city unsettled by an ongoing rape-murder investigation. With little structure to regulate her life outside of school, where she is bullied, Lynn begins smuggling and reselling confiscated mobile phones with her friend, which leads to encounters with the city’s seedier inhabitants. A portrait of exploitation wrought by a technocratic state and its male-dominated conduits, The Foolish Bird accumulates a series of interactions of violence, corruption, and intimacy to conjure a tense mood, and subtly bends the contours of the mystery genre to haunting effect.