In a remote, impoverished village, 13-year-old Wei (Minzhi) is tapped by her schoolteacher Gao (Enman) to take over his classroom when he's forced to leave town for a month. Though barely educated herself, Wei is determined to do a good job, especially when Gao offers her a 10-yuan bonus if none of the 28 students have dropped out upon his return. But one wayward boy puts a wrench in the works...
Zhang Yimou's talent for spinning lovely, touchingly humanistic stories (“Raise the Red Lantern”) set in his native China have earned him a world-class reputation. Stripped down and shot in an almost verité style, Yimou's “Not One Less” is a neorealist-style fable about a destitute teen (newcomer Wei Minzhi) who assumes very adult responsibilities when she journeys to the big city in search of a young truant. “Not One Less” conjures the spirit of Vittorio De Sica, edging close to urban tragedy, but ultimately finds closure with a novel device: the kindness of strangers.