A potentially interesting subject — the reactions of the local population as Macau reverts to Chinese ownership in 1999 — receives dull treatment in the sluggish drama “Diago,” a disappointing sophomore effort from Chinese helmer-writer Zhang Chi (“The Shaft”). With its flat narrative, stilted thesping, melancholy mood and risibly bare-bones production design, this one-note pic is neither entertainment nor art, and seems unlikely to repeat the fest success of his feature debut.
Dour, twentysomething Sino-Portuguese policeman Diago (Carl Ng, beefily handsome but totally expressionless) works at airport immigration, plays mahjong with his fellow officers, and is obsessed with discovering his real father. His Eurasian colleague Peter (Carlos Ernesto Koo Ayala) plans to immigrate to Portugal with pretty bargirl Lulu (Zhou Shixuan). Newly arrived from the mainland, Mandarin teacher Li Nian (Wang Xiao) gives the police corps lessons in the soon-to-be-required language and, in her off time, searches for her former lover. Stylistic elements such as repeated images and minimal dialogue, which Zhang combined to achieve a poignant eloquence in “The Shaft,” register as monotonous here. Tech credits are lackluster.