DVD Review - Snails in the Rain

Israeli actor Yoav Reuvani in "Snails in the Rain"
Yariv Mozer was a teacher at a film school in Jerusalem. He mainly produced documentaries while there. A few dealt with homosexuality in the Middle East. This film, set in the summer of 1989 in Tel Aviv, is his feature debut.

The title refers to the final scene, which has a literal depiction of two mollusks during a downpour. Snails in religious culture have been a symbol of the deadly sin of sloth. Beyond neglecting God's word, sloth is being physically and emotionally inactive or a wasting due to lack of use.

That description could certainly be applicable to the characters in this film. Yet, the opening scene is that of a man typing on a typewriter. The subsequent narrative is built on the anonymous, letter correspondence toward Boaz, an Israeli college student. His anonymous pen-pal can only express in secret what he can't express in person. Boaz goes to his school post office where he receives love letters from this unknown man. Boaz doesn't trash them. He saves the letters and reads them, so this film is propagated by way of "snail mail."

The feeling, however, that Mozer conveys in this movie is not that of a cold, slimy nightcrawler. The overwhelming feeling from Mozer's first narrative is instead hot and steamy, rough and course. It's the stuff of restrained lust and sexual caution, brimming in every single scene. Some filmmakers might choose to sprinkle this kind of throbbing here and there. Yet, Mozer establishes this intense sexual frustration and like a dog with a bone doesn't let it go for the entire length of the movie.

Former Israeli model Yoav Reuvani stars as Boaz. Boaz ironically comes from a Hebrew word meaning quickness or swiftness. Boaz studies linguistics. He makes extra money working as a furniture mover. He likes to swim at the local pool and he has a girlfriend named Noa with whom he's very affectionate.

Nevertheless, everywhere Boaz goes, he catches attention from both guys and girls. It's no wonder as he is an absolutely beautiful, young man, gorgeous beyond compare. The issue though is that Boaz notices the people who notice him, but only if those people are other men. Some women do double-takes when Boaz walks by, but Boaz never sees them. He only sees the guy on the night jog, or the guy on the bus, the guy in the locker room, the guy in the library, the guy at the cafe and the guy at college.

There are all these random men that catch Boaz's eye because he catches theirs. With each subsequent encounter, the tension and frustration for Boaz increases. It builds and builds to a point where he clearly wants to have sex with one of these men. He resists though. Some of the men who catch his eye do get aggressive or make the first move, but the question is if Boaz will ever take the bait.

Mozer says his work is inspired in part by Amos Guttman, the Israeli filmmaker who directed Drifting (1983), the first Israeli, LGBT-themed film. Mozer says he also draws from Adi Nes, the Israeli photographer who did a controversial series of soldiers filmed homoerotically. Mozer does a little of that here. Boaz is revealed to have served in the Israeli army. Mainly, Mozer's movie is all about wanting something badly, waiting for it or perhaps slowly moving toward it but always having it at arm's length.

Moran Rosenblatt who plays Noa, the girlfriend of Boaz who realizes full well this creeping tension in him, gives an incredible performance. She's on par if not better than Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain, mostly because Rosenblatt has more to do.

Mozer ends the film in a very similar way to the recent Polish movie dealing with related subject matter In the Name Of... (2013). Mozer too has a character look directly into the camera after only subtly revealing to the audience the choice that character has made, which has only trapped him, due to a snail-like inability to do anything else.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains nudity and sexuality.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 21 mins.
In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Available November 11 on DVD and VOD.

Yariv Mozer as Prof. Richlin in "Snails in the Rain"


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