City Paper is not for tourists
Equal parts love story and outsider’s tale, Shun Li and the Poet is about a kinship between a young Chinese worker and an old Yugoslavian fisherman, set in a small town in Italy. For reasons unknown, Li has been forced to leave her home country and work for a Chinese crime organization. She eventually ends up working at a café in a fishing village near Venice. Despite some initial stutters, Li’s cafe patrons grow to love her limited Italian and easygoing manner—but none so much as Bepi, the warm-hearted and aging fisherman. Though he has lived in Italy for 30 years, he still considers himself a foreigner. This commonality draws the unlikely pair together. They share details of their lives to each other: Bepi’s fishing hut, Li’s gorgeously rendered Chinese traditions. But things quickly take a downturn: Li carries a tragic secret with her, which keeps her longing for home, and the town begins to look down on their blossoming romance, spreading rumors about Li’s intentions. Shun Li and the Poet is a refreshing love story that reminds us that romance rarely grows in a vacuum.