Snails in the Rain (2013)
There are many types of snails… Some snails have lungs and some have gills. In this film I’m not sure what kind of snail Boaz would be; however, he needs to figure out who he is before he suffocates.
Synopsis from Amazon: “In this… Israeli film set in Tel Aviv in 1989, Boaz (male model Yoav Reuveni) is a linguistics student committed to his loving girlfriend, Noa (Moran Rosenblatt). But soon Boaz questions his life when he begins receiving a series of obsessive love letters from another man. … As the letters progressively consume his daily thoughts, paranoia soon sets in, making everyone around him a potential suspect. As his world unravels, Boaz must come to terms with his inner demons in order to finally accept his true self.”
One of the main themes this film brings to mind is the struggle of closeted, gay men (in this case even closeted to themselves). Boaz has some repressed homosexual feelings that he can’t act on. When the mysterious letters start coming he suspiciously looks at other men to figure out who they are coming from. Interestingly, the voice that reads the letters in his mind is male. That this is the default here exposes that Boaz has an attraction to other men on some level.
But we see that he struggles with this intensely. The film is set in 1989 when it wasn’t as acceptable to be openly gay, so the option to be “out” or even discover himself may not have existed for him. But other people around him are obviously experimenting as we see the looks from other guys, and even ones that hit on him occasionally. But Boaz can’t seem to bring himself to reciprocate, sometimes even reacting badly. The paranoia that he faces is almost stifling.
Even one of the final scenes in the film is like a metaphor for where Boaz is mentally with this issue. Let’s just say he’s two-thirds of the way to being able to express this repressed side of himself. And with that much pressure on his psyche, he’s like a bottle about to explode.
The film is well done. I would say it starts out like a bit of a mystery wondering who the letter sender is, but I knew who it was about 15 minutes into the film. From there it became more of a psychological mystery wondering what was really going on inside Boaz’s mind, and what he would do about the situation. There’s some good suspenseful scenes that put you on edge for a bit.
Snails in the Rain is also pretty raw. We’re looking at a man who is intensely confused about who he is – about an issue that is at the core of his being. And we can plainly see the internal struggle as it plays out and wrecks him emotionally. At one point I was horrified at how this played out with his girlfriend Noa. He goes from distant, to paranoid, to violent…
I think this is a worthwhile film to see. It’s not a new topic and doesn’t really break any ground, but it does show the turmoil of discovering yourself and making choices in a way I haven’t seen before. By the end the viewer is practically inside Boaz’s mind, and you can feel the pressure he is under.