Cultural cliches run amok in “She, a Chinese,” first narrative feature by mainland China-born, U.K.-based writer-director Xiaolu Guo (“How Is Your Fish Today?”). A miserabilist portrait of a young Chinese slacker who flees her homeland with a stash of money and finds life in London isn’t much better, the pic recycles ethnic/character stereotypes and platitudes to dull, uninvolving effect. Guo’s rep in certain literary circles will nudge this along the fest trail but little farther. As a filmmaker, she still has plenty to prove, Locarno’s Golden Leopard victory notwithstanding.
Li Mei (Huang Lu, the abused lead in “Blind Mountain”) is a trashy village girl near Chongqing, central China, who hangs with gangster types (Wu Leiming, Wei Yibo) and ends up illegally staying in the U.K., where she platonically marries a kindly retired math teacher (Geoffrey Hutchings, OK) but canoodles with a Muslim Indian eatery owner (Chris Ryman). The slight narrative moves along, but Huang’s one-note perf (bored, down-in-the-mouth) doesn’t make her unsympathetic character more likable, and dialogue is either functional or trite. Low-budget tech credits are better-looking in the China-set scenes than the Blighty-set scenes. Chinese title means “China Girl.”