DIY Does DIFF: Episode III

Just like Hollywood, we’re milking a good thing and presenting you with the third (okay, fourth, but the first one was a prequel) installment of DIFF reviews. Today, Russel Smith gets a look into the life of a deaf and blind man in Planet of Snail and Russell Grant gets taken into the psyche of a child whose father has abandoned him in The Kid with a Bike.


Planet of Snail reviewed by Russel Smith  



I had no expectations walking in to this film. I had no real idea of what it was about either other than it was South Korean. So when I sat down and began to watched Young-Chan and his wife, Soon-Ho change a light bulb, such an ordinary task that takes only a minute for anyone I know and hardly any effort at all, for them, it is a test of patience and perseverance.

Planet of Snail documents the life of Young-Chan, a blind-deaf man, and his wife, who has her own physical limitations. The film is a tender look into their relationship, their dependency on each other and ultimately the love that they share. Through conversation with friends and each other we get an idea of what life was like for Young-Chan before he met his wife, and the fears that one day they’ll be separated again.

Soon-Ho is his link to the world outside of himself, using a finger braille system of communication she translates and interprets everything around him. Together they explore the simplest of things rain drops falling, the smell of trees and the ocean’s waves. Young-Chan’s severe inability to interact with people and his environment around him is brought in to clear focus only a few times in the film when he is left alone.

Despite his limitations, through his sense of touch and his writing, he is able to describe beauty and share his unique perception of the world in his poetry, beyond what most would have thought a man that has never seen the world was capable of. It challenges any preconceptions of what kind of internal life he has.

The film is humbling and inspiring in its honest depiction of these two people’s lives. It avoids the pitfalls of depressing the audience or becoming sombre for too long. The film is also educational, shedding light on how the blind-deaf community communicate, through complicated finger braille that looks like typing on fingers, or through a braille machine that looks like one of those old Casio keyboards that can be hooked up to computers.

Planet of Snail is a thoroughly captivating 87 minutes insight in to lives of people that we normally see as having unmanageable circumstances, clearly brought home when Young-Chan’s blind-deaf friend is injured and hospitalised, there is a sense of acceptance and even contentment to be found in Young-Chan’s view of it all, without weighting the audience down with pathos. A slice of, an unusual but happy, life.


The Kid With The Bike reviewed by Russell Grant



This is the latest film from the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, about a 12 year old boy (Cyril) abandoned by his father who rediscovers love and trust in a stranger (a hairdresser named Samantha), who offers to take care of him. The film is an example of exquisitely crafted social-realism; each shot deliberate and stripped down. It forces you into the psyche of a troubled child who you fear is always on the verge of falling prey to his wild impulses, leaving the viewer rapt. Impulse seems a theme with this film, as it is this which leads Samantha to take care of him, she seeming to feel an immediate bond with him in their encounter in the doctor’s room (when he grabs onto her, her reaction is not surprise, but simply a calmly spoken “You can hold me, but not too tight”). The significance of the bike is its function as both multi-faceted symbol and key narrative driver: in the beginning the boy, searching for his father (who has moved homes without informing the child), is also searching for his bike. When told that his father sold the bike, he is incredulous, not believing that his father would even contemplate such a thing. He soon finds out that his father did in fact sell it, and a significant rupturing of trust (represented by the bike) is enacted. From his encounter with Samantha in the doctor’s room the bike plays a key but subtle role in the progression of the narrative. It is the theft of his bike that leads to an encounter with a dangerous kid, which results in Cyril finding himself on the wrong side of the law, a significant plot development. The bike is also a pertinent symbol both of youthful innocence and freedom (as when a father teaches a son to ride a bike, it facilitates the building of immense trust and a strong bond) as well as a purely practical device. This mirrors Cyril’s own conflict between innocent child, and having to grow up early, staying in a foster estate and fending for himself, using the bike as an adult would; a means of survival, and not of play. Near the end, the bicycle becomes once again a symbol of trust, when out riding with Samantha, the two swap bikes, and spend a pleasant afternoon riding with no particular destination.

Final thoughts: thoroughly enjoyable, moving, and engrossing.

One Response to “DIY Does DIFF: Episode III”
  1. luke says:

    solid russell.

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