Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Miou-Miou, Charles Berling, Stanislas Merhar, Mathilde Seigner, Nanou Meister
Director: Anne Fontaine
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Powerful Insightful Voyage Into Sexual Frontiers
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dry Cleaning was a complete surprise. I purchased the DVD after catching the film at a French film festival in NYC. The film directed by Anne Fontaine goes to places that rarely are visited and the voyage is peopled with real human emotions, foibles, adrenaline, and most importantly an honesty that finally pierces the heart. A hard-working petty-bourgeois couple who own a dry cleaning business are exposed to the "other world" of sexuality by the visit to their town of a traveling erotic brother and sister act. Miou-Miou as always is terrific, her screen presence is nuanced with naturalness. After so many years and many fine films (Going Places, Jonah Will be 25 in the Year 2000, Entre Nous) this performance confirms to this reviewer that she is one of the best actresses on the screen regardless of what language is being spoken. The real surprise here is Charles Berling who rightfully won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor that year. He is simply devastating as the honestly confused and open-minded husband to Miou-Miou's wife who is on the verge of suffocation without knowing it. Berling touches nerves that so many men are afraid to even acknowledge with such simple grace and introspection - it's an ocean of sub-text and we as the viewers are priveledged to take an emotional swim. I highly recommend this DVD for the pleasure of seeing two extraordinary performances that reach out and attempt to shake the psychic foundations of its audience."
Stephen G. Knapp | NYC, NY USA | 07/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To me, a romantically inclined gay man, this was a fascinating but ultimately unfulfilling tale of a "normal" French couple, Nicole and Jean-Marie Kunstler, who have grown unsatisfied with their settled, routine lives. The couple runs a dry cleaning business in an unexciting small French town. Their lives change when they go to a bar with some business associates and encounter Loïc and Marylin, a cross dressing brother/sister act. From the first, the couple is fascinated with the pair but particularly with Loïc, the sexually ambiguous brother, (played to perfection by Stanislas Merhar).The couple is so enchanted with the pair that they take a weekend to the city where the performers are appearing next. When the sister decides to end the act and run away with her lover, the brother insinuates himself into our dry-cleaning couple's lives. The young man claims to be, and is by all indications, straight and soon takes the wife as a lover. The husband is also aroused by the boy but denies his attraction. Soon the boy is living in the couple's home and working in the Dry Cleaning shop and is showing a talent for that type of work. He even befriends the couple's child and helps him with homework and takes him skating.Whether his good work arises from Loïc's desire to repay Jean-Marie or from some innate talent for dry cleaning is unclear. I think that Loïc feels guilty about cuckolding this man who has shown him nothing but kindness, genuinely likes the guy, and is aware of the man's attraction to him. He wants to make amends in any way that he can. Ultimately Loïc offers himself to Jean-Marie physically but is rebuffed. Whether it's the husband's "homosexual panic" or his actually seeing his wife with Loïc during one of their trysts, Jean-Marie decides that Loïc must go. This leads to the final and I think dissappointing concluding scenes."
A Near Miss
disco75 | State College, PA United States | 11/19/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a wonderful, intriguing character study that completely falls apart in its reprehensible last five minutes. The majority of the film explores the variety of longings people possess, and how they manage expressing-- or repressing-- these longings. Two couples are contrasted in lifestyle, but the film gradually and creatively shows how the two pairs are less different than might seem apparent at first glance. The ways the couples interact makes for interesting viewing, and for this reason would warrant a four-star rating.Tragically, the filmmaker seems to want her cake and eat it too. The story is not content to chart divided and varied longings-- it disguises itself as a progressive look at erotic behavior (if it can be considered progressive to show non-conformist sexual relationships after at least 40 years of such depictions on film). But ultimately it becomes clear that what the director really wants is to titillate with scenes that might be considered illicit to the bourgeois audience members and then reassure the conservatives that such illicit behavior will not go without punishment. Haven't we gotten past such stilted conventions and pandering to narrow-mindedness? This proves to be a fatal misjudgment in an otherwise interesting movie."
Getting out of the routine
Dwight W. Hale | Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa-ken Japan | 08/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A routine middle-class couple (both wonderfully acted by Miou-Miou and Charles Berling) who run a dry cleaning/laundry establishment become fascinated by a brother/sister drag/dance act at a local club.Through a series of happenings and coincidences, the brother side of the team (a brilliant Stanislas Merhar) ends up becoming the wife's lover, plus living with the couple, working for them in the dry cleaners and lusting after the husband who may or may not be a closet case. It may sound sordid, but it is not; the film is the epitome of taste and explores the many avenues a relationship can take.Fans of French pop culture will be especially thrilled to see Stanislas Merhar in drag performing as Sylvie Vartan!"