Bertrand Bonello – L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) aka House of Tolerance (2011)

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The dawn of the XXth century: L’Apollonide, a house of tolerance, is living its last days.
In this closed world, where some men fall in love and others become viciously harmful, the girls share their secrets, their fears, their joys and their pains…

Des derniers jours du XIXe siècle à l’aube du XXe, la vie quotidienne des prostituées et de leur patronne dans une maison close. Criblée de dettes, cette dernière dissimule à ses employées la fermeture imminente de l’établissement. Connue sous le nom de « La femme qui rit », une prostituée a le visage marqué par un client dément. Une autre mourra de la syphilis. La plupart des filles rêvent de mariage, d’argent, de liberté. « L’Apollonide » est une cage dorée dans laquelle elles se fanent doucement. Le monde extérieur, ses tragédies, ses nouveautés et ses changements, n’y entre que par l’intermédiaire des habitués qui viennent rejoindre leurs filles favorites tous les soirs, et se confient à elles… Continue reading

Bertrand Bonello – L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (2011)

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Quote:
Bertrand Bonello’s highly stylized look at the final days of a fin-de-siècle brothel in Paris conjures up the languid beauty and frank sexuality of French Romantic painting. Its visual sumptuousness lands somewhere between Ingres and Renoir but with stylistic provocations worthy of a time-travelling Baudelaire.

In the nineteenth century, much of the Parisian sex trade was confined to grands maisons, populated by elegant madams and a vetted clientele. They were akin to social clubs, with the gentleman participants expected to be as charming and witty as they might be in more respectable drawing rooms. The ladies were provocatively dressed and, upstairs, occupied numerous boudoirs ready for carnal pleasures. Even in such a controlled environment, dangers still lurked: disease was rampant and lethal, and sometimes even a gentleman might lose his temper and harm one of the women. Continue reading