Country: Italy / France
Review: Italian documentarian Andrea Segre has here a sweet-n-sour debut on fiction, with “Shun Li And The Poet”, a pensive drama that depicts immigration in its modern forms of slavery. Shun Li (Tao Zhao), is a Chinese woman who has been working for eight years in a textile factory in the suburbs of Rome, where she patiently expects the arrival of her son. Under the orders of a doubtful employment agency, she is suddenly moved to Chioggia, a small fishing town that they call Little Venice, to work temporarily in a bar. There, she will become friends with Bepi aka The Poet (Rade Serbedzija), a retired fisherman whose loneliness seems to be relieved with Shun Li’s presence. Their closeness will provoke rumors of all kinds in the town, and soon Bepi starts to realize that to be with her, might not be possible at all. With a keen cinematography, Segre creates a serene portrayal of the situation, almost without any tension. The only scene in which he explores tension had to do with the fishermen’s disagreements. This introspection and subtleness worked well in most of the situations, but there were times that the addition of some guts would have been advantageous. Awarded in Venice, “Shun Li And The Poet” is not a bad film; yet, it could have explored other ways to better denounce this sad reality, perhaps in a grittier manner rather than timid.