Student Critic Oliver Thomas reviews
(Rodrigo Guerrero, Argentina/France, 2019)
The opening scenes of Venezia pose several questions. Who is this woman? Why is she crying? Why is she in Venice? Why is she in Venice alone? Through the pervasive use of point-of-view shots, the woman Sofia (played by Paula Lussi) is our guide through the streets of the city, an aimless flaneur whose folded arms and glazed expression present an intriguing enigma waiting to be unpacked.
When discovering she is on her honeymoon, and the slow unearthing behind her morose manner is revealed, her immediate situation becomes at odds with her chance encounters and experience of the city. This is most painfully demonstrated in a scene with an American tourist who insensitively says, “You look like someone kicked your dog.”
We are introduced to Venice through the dull greys and placid stillness of early morning inactivity, of garbage collection and seagulls pecking at the plastic sheets of a disused fish market. In many ways the polar opposite of the common perception of the city’s vibrancy, however, seemingly apposite to Sofia’s unfortunate circumstance. An iconic city, a city of romance and beginnings rendered empty and ordinary by Sofia’s marginal perspective and female subjectivity.
This film could easily be criticized for its pessimism and abject lack of hope. However, the film is not about reflection or distanced objectivity but, in contrast, presents a personal and resonant emotional immediacy of suffering and loss. Venezia captures a poignant moment of female grief within a city full of life.