Niuniu – By Vincy WangShort Film Review

A girl and her snail friend

NIUNIU is a beautiful little short film about an introverted girl named Mina who discovers an unlikely friend in a snail named Niuniu. The creator of the film, Vincy Wang, is known for other short films such as Waiting (2017) or When I Find You (2018). But this short with almost no dialogue and an actual snail as a main character highlights her more experimental nature. Protagonist Mina is shown to be disconnected from the world around her as we see her struggle to make conversation with other people. Her failure to put her feelings into words or talk to the people around her is reflected stylistically in the lack of dialogue throughout the film. And the nonverbal conversations she seems to have with Niuniu the snail.

Yet, despite the lonely position Mina finds herself in, the tone of the film is humble, hopeful, and wholesome. Niuniu is a friend to Mina that she can relate to and identify with. She would rather have a dance party with herself and Niuniu than be around people she can’t connect to. Mina and Niuniu have a small birthday party together, at the end of which the camera backs away to zoom out and reveal Mina has become the same size as a snail in the room: Mina’s experience of the world runs parallel to Niuniu’s in many ways. After the credits, we even get to see a brief animation of Mina turning into a snail. It’s a simple depiction of loneliness, but all the more relatable: and thus beautiful in nature.

The way Wang translates these feelings into imagery is compelling. From contemplative wide shots to a zoomed-in shot of the window of a little dollhouse, Wang shows the viewer a variety of perspectives, ranging from that of Mina, to Niuniu’s, to an observer’s point of view. The film also has an almost eclectic color palette as vibrant blues, pinks, and greens set the mood. The rich, deep tones of purple and pink used in the beginning and the remarkable bathroom dance scene create an almost otherworldly feeling. But this makes for a stark contrast with the pale grey sky and green fields Mina then walks through on a cloudy day.

The myriad of perspectives and colors adds to the offbeat playfulness of the film. The contrast can be intentionally startling, especially when two shots are drastically different styles follow one another. The playful scenes such as the one where Mina puts Niuniu in a tiny stroller make very fresh. It feel like a little world that is to be looked at with childlike (or snail-like, if you will) wonder. It is remarkable that Wang manages to construct an interesting narrative in only a few minutes. But by the end, we are left with the feeling that it was only the beginning of a story. Perhaps that’s reason for excitement! Maybe there’s more to come.

In conclusion, NIUNIU was an incredibly unique and well-made film. A story like this works on so many levels, that it’s really a must-watch for anyone. You can tell that director/writer Vincy Wang has a distinct skill for storytelling. Her voice comes through in this film, and it makes us immensely excited to see what she does next.


We had the pleasure of interviewing filmmaker Vincy Wang.Click the button below to go read that interview now!