In the South-Korean documentary Planet of Snail we get a glimpse into the life of Young-Chan, who has been deaf and blind from birth. He lives with his wife Soon-Ho, whose only handicap is that she is very short. The movie gives us a insight into their lives, what it’s like to live without hearing or seeing and what it’s like for a “normal” person to live with someone like that.
Planet of Snail has no narration, save for voice overs of Young-Chan reading his poetry, and no interviews. It’s kind of a fly on the wall documentary were the camera simply observes life as it happens and doesn’t intervene. The only serious attempts at style are the bits where Young-Chan reads his poetry over various montages, shots of clouds and such, as well as a few shallow focus close-ups of Young-Chan’s hands reading on an Electric Braille machine.
This lack of style and lack of narrative makes for an interesting idea, we’re just watching life unfold and letting it speak for itself, but it doesn’t really work as Planet of Snail ends up being largely rather dull. There are some fun scenes in between, like an early scene where we see Young-Chan change a light bulb but overall the title is quite apt, the movie moves at the pace of a snail. That’s probably kind of the point as the life of a blind and deaf person is probably not so fast paced, but the film rarely manages to be the transcendental work of art that it tries to be. For that it would really have needed some style as the stuff happening just isn’t always interesting enough to hold the viewer’s attention. Instead we get a movie that’s visually uninspired and simply drags. This movie did not need to be 90 minutes, 45 would have been just fine.
Still Young-Chan and Soon-Ho are both charming people and the viewer does have a better idea of what it’s like to be deaf and blind after watching the movie. It is a little informative and does convey some of the information visually which is a plus. But it just isn’t enough.
Final Verdict: Planet of Snail does give a little insight into the life of the deaf-and-blind and its lead characters are charming. But the film is let down by so-so film making and is visually uninspired and often rather dull.
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