Student Critic Rory Doherty reviews
(Rodrigo Guerrero, Argentina/France, 2019)
Sofia, a young Argentine woman, aimlessly navigates the city of Venice, reeling after a sudden personal tragedy. Very few other characters have much presence – by focusing on this lone figure you are reminded of absences around her. What’s remarkable then is that throughout her journeys and interactions she has been robbed of any agency.
Her listless wandering seems driven instead by the camera, pulling her along with inflexible movements. The lens is not drawn by actions – when a 360 degree shot on a beach returns to its starting point, Sofia has moved from where we last saw her, severing any sense of continuity. Point-of-view shots are frequently utilised to capture the natural bustle of Venetian life, attracting looks down the barrel of the camera from passers-by. Then they move on, ignorant of the trauma that affects Sofia. Director Rodrigo Guerrero presents these as dismissive, continually distancing Sofia. The city is not lifeless, rather devoid of connections and intimacy. His framing of Venice in drab colours exemplifies the filter of numbness that overlays Sofia’s perspective.
The intense focus on central actor Paula Lussi’s delicate and reserved performance has you scrutinising her every reaction and expression. Her infrequent lines are clouded with confusion and miscommunication, confronting you with an uncomfortable experience as you implore for clarity in the awkward encounters in an unknown environment. Even at a lean 74 minutes, the directionless lingering starts to drag, but Venezia succeeds as a meditative examination of displacement and isolation.