The plaster is crumbling from the walls and his sweater hangs loosely around his old body, but the quality and beauty of the clothes the nearly 90-year-old Frenchman turns out in his laundry are still immaculate. Superb, even. And he knows it. The octogenarian tirelessly presses creases in pants and works his way through baskets of uniforms, using just a single washing machine and one dryer in his shop in a back street of Nice. He is becoming a rarity; all around him, the other laundries are closing down. But Jean-François is loyal to his clients, and they to him. The camera seems to follow him nonchalantly through his daily routine, but this nonchalance is in fact a mask for the filmmaker’s concentration. The camera registers every facial expression and throwaway comment, allowing this survivor’s exceptional story to unfold. The film’s calm, consistent structure – along with a well-timed break in style – give added charge and depth to the protagonist’s character and tenacity. Not until the wrecking balls start their destructive work does the elderly gentleman finally leave his shop and the dark backstreets of Nice for the sunny coast he once called home.
Adriana Komives, Elisabeth Vogler
French Lab Agency