This is a gentle film that has a great heart. It is a simple story of people adrift in the world. Set in a small town close to Venice in Italy, Shun Li of the title is a young Chinese woman who works all hours to raise enough money to pay for her eight year old son to join her. As she is paying off a loan shark debt, the prospect of seeing her son before he is much older are remote. The gangmaster bosses decide where and how she will work.
She is assigned to a bar into which, on a daily basis, comes Bepi, a retired fisherman. He has the nickname ‘the Poet’ because of his reputation among his friends with words and phrases. He is also an immigrant having moved to Italy from Yugoslavia many years before. Shun Li and Bepi form a friendship that brightens her days somewhat and gives him a purpose that was otherwise lacking in his solitary life. He has many friends but is still an outsider because he is not Italian. Perhaps this is why he understands better than anyone what she is going through. However, their growing friendship manages to annoy both the Italian and the Chinese communities and is under threat as soon as it is noticed.
The situation of other characters contrasts those of the lonely pair: the father who finds his son a burden; the retired fisherman who welcomes an uncomplicated life; the friend who seems to be more financially secure; and the son whose ideas on how his father should live his life are unwelcome.
The film was directed by Andrea Segre and released in 2011.
‘Shun Li and the Poet’ is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?