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House of Tolerance (2011)
"L'Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close)" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  25 November 2011 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 3,681 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 22 user | 90 critic | 9 from Metacritic.com

Life in an elegant Parisian brothel in the early twentieth century. The madam essentially owns the women: their expenses exceed earnings, they are in debt. They face problems of pregnancy, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Alice Barnole ...
Iliana Zabeth ...
Pauline Jacquard
Anaïs Thomas
Maia Sandoz ...
(as Maïa Sandoz)
Joanna Grudzinska
Esther Garrel
Louis-Do de Lencquesaing
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Storyline

Life in an elegant Parisian brothel in the early twentieth century. The madam essentially owns the women: their expenses exceed earnings, they are in debt. They face problems of pregnancy, opium, age, and violent clients. One reads sociology at her peril. Occasionally, a client talks of marriage. There are also friendships and affection among the women. The madam is in a dispute with her landlord and calls on influential clients to help. There's a picnic one summer day, a wake, and an evening in masks. Have they expectations? In a coda, we watch a street scene in contemporary Paris. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 November 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

House of Pleasures  »

Box Office

Budget:

€4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,766 (USA) (18 November 2011)

Gross:

$19,327 (USA) (16 December 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The casting says "Clotilde" but her name is misspelled (as "Clothilde", rather a common error in France) in the movie when we see the lines of name/debt written by the matron. See more »

Goofs

A character says he's been to the inauguration ceremony of the Paris Metro. After that there is a scene where we hear fireworks for Bastille Day (14 July). The opening of the Paris Metro (Line 1) was on 19 July 1900, five days after Bastille Day. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.23 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Plaisir d'amour
by Bertrand Bonello and Eloïse Decazes
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User Reviews

 
Poetic, unique, sad and haunting film
11 November 2014 | by (US) – See all my reviews

This takes place in a Paris brothel just before and just after the start of the 20th century. While there is a lot of nudity and sex, the film is almost always anti-erotic, as it is so clear that the women are less than enthusiastic participants. Interestingly, I found the only moments with any erotic charge were moments between the women themselves, who support each other in what amounts to indentured servitude. Occasionally we feel the heat of human connection between them in a look, a touch, and that is far more sensual than anything they share with their clients, which is often degrading, and occasionally violent.

The film is a look at the trap poor women found themselves in, when being a prostitute was one of the only ways to make your own money, and other professions had just as many drawbacks (one woman speaks of giving up being a washer-woman because her lungs were becoming damaged from breathing ammonia all day). But the irony is, the 'expenses' of being a well kept prostitute (from room and board to perfume) are more than the women can take in, so they inevitably fall deeper and deeper into debt. Like sharecroppers, they soon 'owe their soul to the company store'.

This isn't a naturalistic film in the usual sense. It jumps around in time – something we sometimes only realize because we'll see a moment we'd watched earlier happen a second time, but in this case from a new perspective or in a new context. It's 'slow' by our usual standards, and is less about plot than about captured moments that build to something larger. It also uses anachronistic, modern music to great effect. But for all it's intentional artifice, there is a feeling of an honest sort of hyper-reality here. In the same way a poem can capture the feeling of a sunny day better than a lot of scientific explanation, so too does this poetic film capture a complex and sad world in a way that lets you feel a sense of understanding and empathy more than straight forward naturalism might.

The film-making itself is of a very high order. The cinematography and acting are both first rate, and there is a sequence near the end that combined acting, images and music to give me chills in the rare way sequences by great film-makers can sometimes do. Not every choice works, but this is a bold, challenging and emotional film. It doesn't tell you what to think, it just creates a world, invites you inside and allows you to draw your own conclusions. I suspect I will get even more from it on a second viewing.


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