The laundry room

Floriane Devigne, Frédéric Florey
France, Switzerland | OmU

In a Lau­sanne hous­ing block with 80 ten­ants who have multi-lin­gual names that the mail­man will never be able to remem­ber, the renters from many dif­fer­ent nations share four wash­ing machines and dryers. Each hous­ing unit is allowed to do laun­dry once a week for two hours. This may sound simple, but it does not work well. Despite the sched­ule on the wall, the new wash­ing woman Clau­d­i­na is con­tin­u­ous­ly bom­bard­ed with all sorts of com­plaints, and not only regard­ing the laun­dry. As the machines whirl and spin, people’s frus­tra­tions boil over.

Vir­tu­al­ly the entire film, the camera stays in the narrow hall­way, where the minis­cule wash­room is wedged between the entrance and the ele­va­tor (not in the base­ment, as one would expect, because that is where sev­er­al pros­ti­tutes live). It is right in the middle of con­stant coming and going. This tight space becomes the stage where ten­sions build up. The film team is also drawn into the drama. The key to the wash­room may not be the key to the world, but it unlocks the door to a highly top­i­cal film about every­day life in Europe, not just on society’s margins.

Frédéric Florey and Flo­ri­ane Devi­gne take us on a static jour­ney of dis­cov­ery into a rarely seen world inside Switzer­land: the world of the social­ly exclud­ed people. It is a rather black comedy set inside the laun­dry room of a Lau­sanne apart­ment block. The foun­da­tions of soci­ety itself are sketched out or per­ceived in this micro­cosm where dirty laun­dry is almost aired in public.” (