L’APOLLONIDE (SOUVENIRS DE LA MAISON CLOSE) / HOUSE OF PLEASURES

SYNOPSIS
“I’m so tired I could sleep for a thousand years,” one of the prostitutes of the Apollonide, an upscale Parisian brothel, sighs in the beginning of writer-director Bertrand Bonello’s hypnotic House of Pleasures, which traces the final months of the maison at the dawn of the twentieth century. The lamentation immediately establishes the film’s powerful, trancelike mood; languid and decadent, House of Pleasures has a narcotic effect, unspooling as a hallucination, a dream, occasionally a ghastly nightmare. Some scenes and lines of dialogue are repeated right after they’ve ended, a time-stuttering effect that liberates this gorgeously photographed (by Josée Deshaies, Bonello’s wife) period piece from the hidebound qualities usually associated with the genre. Time may open up, but space is constricted. Except for two scenes (and the coda), Bonello’s film takes place entirely within the walls of the bordello, divided between the luxe parlor, where the well-heeled clients discuss the Dreyfus affair and the opening of the Métro while stroking a black panther, and the rooms upstairs, where the “commerce,” as the prostitutes call their work, is transacted. The mise-en-scène may be sumptuous, but Bonello makes no attempts to glorify the profession; the employees of the Apollonide are all too aware of their enslavement.

“In fact, it’s here, in the intersection of space and time, that House of Pleasures realizes its supreme achievement, the creation of a mode of historical address that works to convey the experience of its subject in its time while maintaining an awareness of its subjunctive relationship to all the histories that will follow it.”
Phil Coldiron, Slant Magazine.

DIRECTOR
Bertrand Bonello

SCREENPLAY
Bertrand Bonello

CAST
Samira: Hafsia Herzi
Clotilde: Céline Sallette
Julie: Jasmine Trinca
Léa: Adèle Haenel
Madeleine: Alice Barnole
Pauline: Iliana Zabeth
Marie-France: Noémie Lvovsky

AWARDS
Best Costume Design, Anaïs Romand – César Awards (2012)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 125’
PRODUCTION France, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
IFC Films