The middle class aren't featured much in French cinema, so it's heartening to
see in Anne Fontaine's film that they're as clueless and uptight as the rest of
us. But, being French, perhaps sexier and more tragic. As austere and crisp as
the title suggests, performed with poignant nuance, Dry Cleaning takes a
familiar tale of repression and release and makes it seem fresh and lightly
After meeting with some fellow business owners in their charmless provincial
town of Belfort, Nicole and Jean-Marie Kunstler (Miou-Miou and Charles
Berling), proprietors of the local dry-cleaning establishment, take a walk on
the wild side by visiting a drag show. There they meet Loic (Stanislas Merhar)
and his sister Yvette (Nanou Meister), who augment the gender-bending appeal of
their act with a soupçon of incest. The Kunstlers botch the artistes'
offer of an after-hours foursome, but once Yvette has disappeared into the
night with some rough trade, the humdrum spouses can't quite shake Loic from
their fantasies or their lives.
As the loyal wife who's tired of spending her life cleaning up other people's
shit, Miou-Miou is demure and winsome, sensuous and tough as nails. As the
stiff-limbed, anal husband who's not sure just what he wants from the
endearing, ambiguous Loic, Berling (who bears a disarming resemblance to John
Waters) generates annoyance and pathos. Despite a messy ending, Dry Cleaning
does justice to its dirty laundry.
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