House of Pleasures (2011)
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Critic Reviews for House of Pleasures
Nothing in this film comes as a surprise, but Bonello's intent to show the place backstage as well as onstage is fulfilled and pertinent, even though the period setting gives the picture a curio air.
It's about forcing us to think about people we never would otherwise and seeing their struggles and humanity.
What gives the film its haunting pull, as well as its feminist undercurrent, is the filmmaker's palpable compassion for these women.
No one, male or female, has any fun, but the men behave as if they do. They are all half-stupefied by the languor in which they drown.
It emphasizes setting over character and plot; and it casts a mood that's both eerie and entrancing.
Audience Reviews for House of Pleasures
Dreamy drama following the travails of a group of prostitutes in a belle epoque bordello. It's slow, extremely sad (the main character is permanently disfigured by one of her clients) and features some unsuccessful stylistic gambles (a montage set to "Nights in White Satin"), but it's also a beautiful-looking, elegant and moving film with believably scarred characters.
A sad drama about a group of prostitutes in a Parisian brothel at the end of the 19th century. The narrative is always fluid, while the beautiful production design and cinematography explore quite efficiently the gloom and the romantic view of being a woman submissive to men and their pleasure.
When making a movie that argues against prostitution, it is best not to make it sound like every other dreary profession which was the central problem with Lizzie Borden's "Working Girls." Also set in an upscale brothel, "House of Pleasure," which successfully turns glossy sexiness on itself, takes a more imaginative path, especially in the way it plays with time with a neat use of anachronistic music(but then "Nights of White Satin" does not really sound like a 60's song, either), repetitive dialogue and images to give the feel that time is not flowing as it should inside where it is 1899-1900 Paris. When one of the women remarks that it has been forever since they had a free day, it may be literally true. So, that as hard as the women may work, they probably will never be able to settle their debts with the Madame(Noemie Lvovsky).
But that's not the worst of it, as the brothel is a place where you can only separate the sex from the medical exams by the correct invoice. So while the women have a certain freedom without their corsets, it does not apply to their movements as they forced into degrading positions like Lea(Adele Haenel) who acts like a doll. And that's not counting what happens to Madeleine(Alice Barnole) which leaves an opening that Pauline(Iliana Zabeth), who is not quite 16, applies for. And Julie's(Jasmine Trinca) nickname is Caca, so use your imagination. In fact, a lot of the women are known by nicknames which are degrading in and of themselves.
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