Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Planet of Snail

A little documentary with the unlikely title "Planet of Snail" is as winning and quietly brilliant as its unassuming subjects, a skyscraper of a Korean man named Cho Young-Chan who was born with limited sight and hearing but is now fully deaf and blind, and his wife Soon-Ho, a short little thing with a heart full of love who looks at Young-Chan and sees only accomplishment and possibility. The two communicate via Finger Braille, a painstaking form of sign language in which they tap out words on each other's hands. Young-Chan speaks with the purity and clarity of vision of a born poet, describing the deaf-blind as astronauts abandoned in space.

The movie presents snapshots of their daily lives naturalistically, without exposition or comment. Their relationship is uniquely co-dependent and symbiotic (it's something just to watch them work together to replace a broken ceiling lamp). In fact, when Young-Chan travels by car into the city for physical therapy, it's Soon-Ho who seems to be lost without him. (The look in her eyes as she gazes at him is as sweet and tender as any in film.) Later, they climb up stony steps to a park, where Young-Chan literally hugs trees and breathes in deeply the scent of the small pine cones Soon-Ho hands him. You can't help but fall for this unique couple and this unexpected treasure of a movie.

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