Sancho Does Asia review

Difficult to imagine a title of film at once as little poetic and really intriguing. And yet, it is true that it is pretty, this apple green washing machine! And how intriguing is this bond woven between this usual object and each of the characters. A relationship so powerful that it takes, during these two hours, human form.

When his girlfriend leaves him, taking with him all his things, Teoh stays alone in his dreary apartment and life without a washing machine. He decides to buy a used one, which turns out to be capricious. One night, a woman appears mysteriously alongside the machine ...

Halfway between the fantastic fable and the contemplative film, The Beautiful Washing Machine is above all a ferocious social critic. James Lee, denied of any cultural specificity ( by the choice of the object, universal ) and geographical ( by the choice of places of shooting, without identity ) denounces the faults of modern society. From a caricatured consumerism to isolation via non-communication, through misogyny and repression, this film brings together themes, just like the drum of a washing machine. The protagonists come and go in soulless places ( a supermarket, a parking lot, office compartments ), in the midst of rare frozen unknowns, In the manner of a picture recomposing itself continually as our heroes move slowly. This rhythm, combined with the vocal and visual in expressiveness of the actors, the hypnotic fluorescent lighting and the raw image of the DV camera, helps to distance the viewer from the story. The film seems voluntarily empty of emotions. Difficult therefore to feel the slightest sympathy for these characters of which Lee tries to show the dark face. From harmless depressives, they rapidly transform themselves under the impartial eye of the director into possessive tyrants. This distancing, reinforced by a director who only scratches over the many themes he addresses, allows the viewer to form his own idea of ​​history, to issue a judgment of his own, even if he is in bad faith . This film with voyeuristic tendency.

It is true that the total absence of communication between the protagonists of the film leaves pensive. Their inability to establish relationships creates the screen, through the multiple substitutes that they implement. Some prefer to talk to their washing machine, others hide behind a robot mask or in front of their television set, others take refuge in complete silence, and finally all fill their life and their mouth with a cigarette Which justifies silence and inactivity. A void also filled, for the two main characters, by the absolute power that they arrogate to this woman mysterious and totally submissive. A modern slavery that transforms woman into object, into a living washing machine. This beautiful woman, By turns possessed - both literally and figuratively - by men is obviously the subject of the film, victim of that power exercised by men over their fellow men. His disappearance will moreover be provoked by another woman who feels the influence - the power - that she had on his father to escape him by his fault.

To evoke this notion of possession with as much freedom as possible, but also to introduce a dose of black humor and irony, James Lee appeals to symbols and metaphors. The most obvious of these is obviously this famous washing machine, universal and feminine product. Through the porthole, the spectator attends the repetitive wash cycles that make up the story, constantly lulled by the buzzing sound background of the machine. A particularly evocative scene takes place in a supermarket. The heroes stroll through the shelves and find themselves surrounded by clothes displays. As trapped in a wash, they leave to find themselves in the white and immaculate alleys of the supermarket ...

Visually troubling, definitely provocative, The Beautiful Washing Machine is not free from defects. The narrative structure in repetitive cycles makes it a bit long at times. The soundtrack, which sits the metaphor of the washing machine throughout the film, ends up stupefying. Finally, the superficial treatment of the subjects tackled, although certainly assumed, can annoy if perceived as an ease. However, despite a skeletal framework, the film has a story. Thanks to the talent of James Lee, she is the one you want to imagine..

Read the full review by David Decloux on Sancho Does Asia
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Independent feature, short, branded & documentary films © 2013 by Doghouse 73 Pictures