Friday, July 13, 2012


House of Tolerance/L'Apollonide: Souvenier de la maison close (2011) - Bonello
Bertrand Bonello's film opens in 'the twilight of 19th century' in a high class brothel (L'Apollonide). Sumptuously photographed with plenty of beautiful nude bodies, House of Tolerance dangerously meddles in soft-core porn territory. But as the it progresses in its hazy and unhurried elegance, you are totally sold on the glimpse into this dream world. The images are not really arousing but rather arresting. Except for one scene where girls enjoy their time off together on the lakeside picnic, the film solely takes place in the lavishing whorehouse. Even though they seek financial independence and freedom in a rigid society, they are bound to the place. They dream of getting out one day but everyone knows it's impossible. Some are hopelessly in love with their regular client and pay the ultimate price. These exquisite creatures include Algerian (Hafsia Herzi), Caca (Jasmine Trinca), Léa (Adele Haenel), The Jewess/Laughing Girl (Alice Barnole) and Julie (Céline Sallette). The aftermath of watching this hypnotic film is not unlike being intoxicated (the girls do consume a lot of champagne in the film). Whether the director is advocating to make prostitution legal (as it seems, with his use of modern music segue-ing into modern day finale), so making the world's oldest profession somewhat safer doesn't really interest me. I'm just worried that I will have a hangover from this tomorrow morning.