Planet of Snail

(Korea, Finland, 2012, 88 mins, Blu-ray Disc)


"Young-chan is a tall, striking fellow who can neither see nor hear, though he learned to speak at an early age, before he lost his vision and hearing. When we first see him in Planet of Snail, he’s attempting to launch a kite with the help of a very small person who appears, at first glance, to be a child; this is his wife, Soon-ho, a tiny woman with an incandescent face and long, dark, lush hair. She’s giving Young-chan tips on how to fly the kite, spelling out her ideas in tactile sign language, or finger-braille: Her fingertips touch the tops of his fingers lightly, as if she were typing or playing piano on the most delicate, responsive keys imaginable.

"What unfolds from there is a portrait of practical symbiosis in both domestic and emotional terms…Soon-ho is Young-chan’s chief caretaker, and the movie does address Young-chan’s need to become more independent: Yi captures the muted suspense of a day that Soon-ho spends by herself after sending Young-chan off, armed with his white cane, for a day on his own.

"But more often Planet of Snail evokes, in radiant detail, the mutual reliance that makes good partnerships work. Young-chan is an accomplished essayist and poet, and Planet of Snail is punctuated by his fine-grained but resolute observations: "All deaf-blind people have the heart of an astronaut," he says at one point, alluding to the sense of isolation that he’ll never be able to fully escape. Young-chan may be floating free in space, but a fellow traveler hovers close by; the tether between them, and the world, is invisible but strong. Recommended." Stephanie Zacharek, NPR

"Planet of Snail is simple, direct and magical. The warm, intimate story of a singular couple, it won the top prize at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and it will win you over as well if you give it the chance." Kenneth Turan, LA Times

"A love story of uncommon loveliness and simplicity." Andrew O’Hehir,

"A perfect date movie." Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York