THE WASHING MACHINE

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by Dominik Hartl

grade: 7

The flat in which the two protagonists live is the perfect setting. A small, sometimes cramped environment. The ideal environment for all kinds of paranoia. The silence in the house, the night, the soft lighting do the rest. And the director in The Washing Machine showed above all that he knows how to deal with space and how to convey the right emotions perfectly – thanks also to an excellent cast. Winner of the Österreichischer Filmpreis 2021 for Best Short Film.

An ‘innocent’ act

What a disaster when the washing machine breaks down! Who hasn’t it happened to? Simon (played by Thomas Schubert) and Lea (Brigitta Kanyaro), the protagonists of the short film The Washing Machine, directed by Dominik Hartl and winner of the Österreichischer Filmpreis 2021 for Best Short Film, know something about it. The adventure of the two protagonists will undoubtedly have unexpected turns.

Everything takes place in the flat where Simon and Lea live. One day their washing machine breaks down, but the cost to dispose of it is quite high. What to do? The two decide to sell it on the Internet without mentioning its defects and asking potential buyers to pick it up directly from their home. So, one evening, Hassan (Aziz Çapkurt) arrives at their place. The next day, he phones Simon again to complain that the washing machine is broken. The boy’s guilt starts to drive him into paranoia and certain events end up further increasing his unease.

Dominik Hartl has a predilection for the horror genre. Just think, for instance, of his two latest feature films: Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016) and Party hard die young (2018). And even though this The Washing Machine is not really a horror short film, the atmospheres are there. And there is also a welcome touch of irony, as is often the case in the films of the young filmmaker from Schladming. The entire story focuses on the character of Simon. Simon is a good person, even if he does not always behave honestly. But the very fact that he is a good person leads him to have many feelings of guilt because of his actions. Guilt feelings that manifest themselves mainly when he is alone in his flat, when his girlfriend has gone out with her friends and has forgotten to charge his mobile phone battery, when it is evening.

And then, of course, there is Lea. Lea and the relationship between the two protagonists. And it is precisely the couple’s relationship the additional protagonist of The Washing Machine. Simon and Lea have been together for a long time. Their everyday life seems to be well established by now. But do they really know each other? And, above all, could Simon occasionally take everything for granted? Dominik Hartl observes their relationship with irony and lightness, fully rendering the image of a typical long-standing couple and avoiding any rhetoric.

The flat in which the two protagonists live is the perfect setting. A small, sometimes cramped environment. The ideal environment for all kinds of paranoia. The silence in the house, the night, the soft lighting do the rest. And the director has really thought about every detail. Just as he did in his previous features, whose disturbing atmospheres are still there. In his The Washing Machine, he has above all shown that he knows how to deal with space and how to convey the right emotions perfectly – thanks also to an excellent cast. What consequences will Simon and Lea’s actions have? As always, the conclusion is never what we expect.

Original title: Die Waschmaschine
Directed by: Dominik Hartl
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 2020
Running time: 25’
Genre: comedy
Cast: Thomas Schubert, Brigitta Kanyaro, Aziz Çapkurt, Adem Karaduman, Aladdin Jameel
Screenplay: Dominik Hartl
Cinematography: Anna Hawliczek
Produced by: Filmakademie Wien

Info: the page of The Washing Machine on iMDb; the page of The Washing Machine on the website of the Diagonale; the page of The Washing Machine on the website of the Filmakademie Wien