House of Pleasures Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 30, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 27, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
May 29, 2013
Disturbing in parts but nonetheless, this look into a turn of the century brothel has compelling gals who perform the same tasks but are from so many diverse and interesting backgrounds.
Super Reviewer
½ October 5, 2011
I like that the film isn't about prostitution in the conventional pop culture sense (meaning that its not a bunch of heart of gold hookers who live in a party house). Director Bertrand Bonello is more interested in presenting the environment in a more matter of fact manner. The women talk about sexuality in the most basic terms, its not even something they are particularly interested in but they have almost nothing else to talk about. They form bonds out of necessity and its really interesting to see their complicated group dynamic play out. The worse things get, the more they unite together. Also Bonello's stylistic choices give the film a hypnotic quality thats fascinating to watch.
August 16, 2014
Not the sex-fest you would imagine from the title, but this French movie does depict lots of female nudity (all of it appealing in its many shapes and sizes). This brothel houses many prostitutes of varying age and beauty. The clients are mostly the same men who return night after night building hope in the ladies for a brighter future. This is depressing and overly long but it did keep my interest. The camaraderie among the ladies was a pleasure to watch.
February 2, 2013
Strange, weird, thus erotic, rough, bold and brutally real. I like how all the naked women formed a rather illusive and fascinating painting than a cheap graphic downstream pornography. It is definitely a film that will make you think about the things people usually forget, because it is tough, sometimes it is easier to just forget it.
August 18, 2013
Peaked my curiosity until the very bitter end.
June 30, 2013
HOUSE OF PLEASURES is truly astonishing. This gorgeous sumptuous film brilliantly depicts prostitution as nothing short of enslavement. Director Bertrand Bonello pulls off quite a feat. He shows how prostitution in the Belle Epoque, so often glamorized in art, was actually a nightmare of brutality. He then includes brief passages of late 20th century music and split screens, to clearly comment on our current world in which prostitution continues to destroy lives. Most importantly, Bonello never makes the sex kinky or titillating. The film is gorgeous but Bonello never loses his insights. At no point would one think this world is beautiful or wonderful. He also doesn't over due the ghastliness of it all. The film is long, and it feels long, which is the key to its success. You live the lives of these women, only once leaving the bordello. In small ways we see how prostitution breaks the spirit and literally kills. A magnificent work with true depth and insight. Bravo to all involved!
April 14, 2013
I thought it was a very well done, very deep and thoughtful, although tragic, piece. I really disliked the modern music in the beginning and throughout it, though. When I watch a period piece, I like to be able to sort of believe that I am seeing something going on in that time. Music from a totally different era is like a reminder popping up on the screen saying "THIS IS JUST MAKE BELIEVE".
March 2, 2013
Un acercamiento profundo del espectador hacia lo que fue y es el mundo de la prostitución. No es película para todo publico, pero es una bella representación estética de Francia a comienzos del siglo XX, vista a través de una casa de lenocinio y las tristes historias a su alrededor. Para quien gusta de una buena puesta en escena y una historia lenta pero descarnada.
November 27, 2011
I admired this movie for its depth. Rather than sensationalizing a bordello as just sex, it gave a rather clear and honest depiction of what happened, from the highs, to the lows, to the mundane, to the horrible, in high end, turn of the century madame run brothels of a certain class. I found the moreain characters developed well and the oddities (the modern music, etc.) interesting...if you were looking for just a sexy film, this isn't it. The women are beautiful yes, and often naked, but it's more about their stories than sex. French director and screenwriter Bertrand Bonello's fifth feature film which he also wrote, scored and co-produced with Kristina Larsen is a French production. It tells the story of numerous prostitutes living and working at a Parisian brothel run by Madame Marie-France near the end of the 19th century. Most of the women who lives at the mansion get' along fine with their customers and one of them is evolving a relationship with a regular customer. Clotilde, known as the Jewess, shares her dreams with this man and one night after having been away for two weeks, he returns to the house of tolerance. Clotilde tells the man of a dream she has had about him and plays along to fulfill his desires, but during the session he cut's her with a knife. Following the horrific incident, Clothilde is left with a disfigured face, loses many of her customers and is given the name, the woman who laughs. Subtly and acutely directed by Bertrand Bonello, this visually distinct interior period drama which is seen and narrated from the point of view of the prostitutes, draws a detailed, involving and intimate portrayal of their ritualistic lives at a brothel, during the twilight and the dawn of the 20th century in Paris, France. With a stringent narrative structure and while depicting several minor studies of character, this finely paced, somewhat surreal and historic study of prostitution presents a closed world marked by socializing, boredom, decadence, sadness and fantasies, where the women shares their experiences with each other, and creates a reverent depiction of their strong and private unification. Notable for it's brilliant set decoration by Alain Guffroy, costume design by Anaïs Romand and the picturesque cinematography by Joseé Deshaies, this is a low-keyed, melancholic, symbolic, darkly romantic and dreamlike tale of a descending utopia.
½ January 12, 2013
There is a need for real dramas in the bordello, I don't particularly enjoy pretty pictures
½ December 25, 2012
I found the movie to be rather weird but it did stay on my mind for a while and even invoked thought.
October 16, 2012
excellent film! I only wish someone would give m the tracking listing to the soundtrack... fin-de-siecle Paris never looked so lush, the nostalgia, the anti-Semitism of the time (surely the mentioning of the Dreyfus affair & Madeline's disfigurement was no coincidence!!). So very well done.
October 4, 2012
A very interesting tale of each woman in the house of pleasures!
½ September 23, 2012
Simply put, it's a beautiful film. Costuming, make up, the cast, and set design is nothing less than absolute perfection. A pleasure prison.
September 15, 2012
An interesting period drama that showcases the appeal of prostitution, while not glamorizing by any means either. Some weird cuts and imagery help the film's atmosphere too, although I could have gone without the anachronistic music.
September 11, 2012
My favourite film of 2011. Lush, beautiful, emotional, captivating, brilliant.
September 8, 2012
House of Tolerance want see this movie
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