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
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 »
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 »
It's 1899 Paris. Marie-France Dallaire is the madame of the brothel L'Apollonide. As the months roll by, she is faced with debilitating rent increase from the landlord. Clotilde has been there for 12 years since she was 16. Julie is nicknamed Caca for her specialty. She dreams of going with her married customer Maurice. Léa mails away gifts of her pubic hair. Pauline Deshaies is a 15 year old who writes a letter applying for a job. The movie open with the Jewess Madeleine who has a prophetic dream. She is cut horribly by a customer. These and the other girls deal with the many issues as the brothel threatens to close.
I'm not sure if it's a deliberate idea from filmmaker Bertrand Bonello. There is a matter-of-factness to these women. I like to have more history to these interesting characters. It would be great to follow fewer of them and dig deeper into their lives. The Joker face is compelling visually. The tone is one of empty sadness. There isn't really any tension. The rent issue isn't that dramatic. I do have a big problem with the split screen scenes. There remind me of surveillance video and that takes me out of the movie.
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