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.
| Original Score: 3/4
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.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
It emphasizes setting over character and plot; and it casts a mood that's both eerie and entrancing.
Seductive on the surface, steely underneath, this is an angry, fascinating, highly political film all wrapped up in costumed frilliness.
| Original Score: 4/5
"Pleasures" becomes as enveloping - and sometimes as awkward - as one of the L'Apollonide ladies' heaving corsets.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
The heavy candlelit chiaroscuro paints the women as mobile Renoirs, Degases and Manets.
| Original Score: 3/5
It's a gorgeously filmed portrait of a bygone era, with painstaking attention to period detail.
Among other things, a sharp corrective to such effervescent red-light classics as Max Ophüls's "Le Plaisir."
Erratic, occasionally WTF hilarious...
Without soft-pedaling it-the story of "The Girl Who Laughs" alone will brush away that line of criticism-Bonello nonetheless mourns the extinction of the brothel, where the women at least had each other.
| Original Score: A-