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Film / La Vis

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La Vis (The Screw) is a a 1993 short film (16 minutes) from France, directed by Didier Flamand.

Mr. K (Jean Reno) is tinkering away in his home, making...something, out of wood. His craftsmanship is interrupted when he picks up a screw and realizes that it lacks a notch for the screwdriver. Outraged, he goes to the corporate headquarters of "Metallika", the company that produced the screw. He then goes on a strange journey through the deeply bizarre building, as he seeks satisfaction for the defective product.



  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The actors speak in a vaguely Central European-sounding gibberish. Scattered throughout are words in various languages, like when K's wife says "cocina" when he enters her kitchen, or the elevator operator always saying "close the door" and "next stop" in English, or the engineers saying "gross problem" when evaluating the screw, or, crucially, the French word "clou" ("nail").
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Metallika building, obviously no more than two stories high from the outside, has several more stories on the inside.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The weird building where Metallika is located, which seems to change from scene to scene. Mr. K first sees the building straight ahead...then he has to descend a long flight of stairs to get to it. The building is clearly no more than two stories high from the outside but has many more floors than that in the inside. And one time, several floors up, the door of the elevator opens to a train station.
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  • Deliberately Monochrome: The black-and-white photography serves to add to the feeling of strangeness.
  • Diegetic Switch: Soothing violin music starts on the soundtrack as the elevator goes up. The violin music then speeds up and gets much more dissonant. It's revealed to be coming from a violin player tucked away in the corner of the elevator.
  • Gainax Ending: Mr. K has successfully made it all the way to the boss of the company, it seems. The boss summons a worker, presumably the one responsible for the defective screw, up to his office. The worker looks identical to Mr. K (and is also played by Jean Reno). The worker, seeming to panic, stammers out "c-, c-, c-", and then finally spits out "clou", the French for "nail". He then says "Clou!" more confidently, and pounds the screw into the wall with a hammer. Despite the fact that it clearly is not supposed to be a screw—it has threads!—everyone in the office says "clou" in relief. Then everyone leaves and Mr. K is left alone, staring forlornly at the screw.
  • Identical Stranger
    • A man is on the elevator. Another, identical man gets on. They look at each other in astonishment.
    • Then there's the bizarre ending, with the worker in the office who looks just like Mr. K. Is the worker an Identical Stranger to Mr. K? Is the worker a Doppelgänger of Mr. K?
  • Man on Fire: The demonstration floor shows a man demonstrating a fire extinguisher. He douses another man's coat with benzene (the word "benzene" is clearly audible). The fire extinguisher does not work. After a little bit of arguing, the man with the burning coat runs off.
  • Mind Screw: There's the bizarre gibberish dialogue, the weird building that's bigger on the inside than on the outside, there's a man painting Portable Holes, Mr. K's double showing up out of nowhere...
  • Noodle Incident: At one point a man that has been badly beaten staggers into the elevator. Nothing more comes of this.
  • Portable Hole: One of the product-demonstration people paints a circle on the floor with what looks like tar. Another man inspects the circle, and, naturally, falls through the hole.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: It isn't even a trash can. As Mr. K is headed to the factory he strides past what looks like a grim Soviet-style apartment building, with a random fire burning on the ground out front. This is part of the Mind Screw unreality of the movie, as when we saw Mr. K's house in the opening scene it looked like it was in a French village.

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