Film Review: The Wondrous World of Laundry

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Berlin International Film Festival -- Forum

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BERLIN -- The title of German director Hans-Christian Schmid's documentary "The Wondrous World of Laundry" sounds intriguing in an odd sort of way but there's really not a lot to laundry and nothing wondrous about it.

Had Schmid set out to explore in an inventive way what happens to the dirty linen from Berlin's five-star hotels, that might actually be interesting. But he focuses instead on the ordinary lives of three Polish women who work at the laundry that cleans it all.

Filmed without much attempt to make interesting images, the film is a dull piece of television reportage that is unlikely to make much headway beyond local territories and raise much of a fuss even there.

Honorable and hardworking as they are, the women's lives are quite dull and while they reflect on dashed childhood aspirations they amount to little more than one wishing she could have been a doctor.

The film shows a brief interview with one of the entrepreneurs who set up the laundry just across the border with Germany to take advantage of the steam that is a by-product of a local power plant but, more important, the cheaper labor in Poland.

The apparent intent is to show that the workers are exploited but there's little to suggest what they might do for employment if the laundry wasn't there. The truth is that the film fails to make their fate of interest one way or the other.

Production companies: 23/5 Filmproduction, RBB / Arte
Director: Hans-Christian Schmid
Screenwriter: Hans-Christian Schmid
Producers: Britta Knoller, Hans-Christian Schmid
Director of photography: Bogumit Godfrejow
Editor: Stefan Stabenow
Sales agent: Bavaria Film International
No rating, 97 minute