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Nicole and Jean-Marie Kunstler are a nice, hard working couple who have been married for 15 years. They operate a dry cleaning business that keeps them both too busy to take a vacation, or to change their routine. A fateful trip to a drag club leads them to encounter Loic and Marilyn, a brother-sister drag queen performing team. Their shows fascinate the couple, as both Nicole and Jean-Marie find themselves growing more and more attached to Loic. Loic brings to the surface all of their suppressed desires and emotions - willingly and unwillingly. A psychological examination into the effects one attractive young man's entrance into the lives of an ordinarily seeming couple could have. Written by
Uninspired tale of married couple descending into disillusionment and prurient sensuality just goes on "automatic pilot" with predictable relationships and familiar story formula.
Saw a humongously uninspired French movie, Dry Cleaning (Nettoyage a Sec), that the advertisers swear won Cesar awards all over the place, but is just a hodgepodge of every foreign movie cliche that might strike an upscale audience as profound: a sexually ambiguous stranger insinuates himself into the lives of a married couple, engaging them in sexual games that bring them to the brink of self-destruction. She's desolate without the young man; the husband wrestles with his denial that he's also turned on by the stranger. Of course this is "art theatre," so we are to suppose that every straight man is really a gay man who hasn't found out yet. On the other hand the homosexual aspect of the story becomes the vehicle that carries the husband into his own corner of hell, an idea that seemed arty thirty-odd years ago (The Sergeant; The Children's Hour) but now is just insulting to gays. And of course the story is dotted with major and minor sexual interludes and taunts, but relationships are left to angry, dissatisfying silences between not-particularly-interesting characters. Story elements are offered that suggest the plot could go somewhere else but instead lead nowhere (the young man's sister leaves and conceivably might return looking for him; the young man has genuine talent as a dry-cleaner and might make a life for himself beyond his "drifter" existence; the married couple thinks about moving to Canada). I think the filmmaker has a long way to go in justifying why he wanted to make this movie -- what he thought would make this film extraordinary compared to some other story about dissolving marriage or sexual curiosity. Imagine La Strada if Anthony Quinn just sat around and brooded. If Thomas Mann had written Dry Cleaning it would be called Death in Suburbia: except that, speaking strictly for myself, I think it's the audience that dies.
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