HOUSE OF PLEASURES (L'Apollonide - Souvenirs de la maison close), the new one by Bertrand Bonello is up there with the best (i.e. Louis Malle's Pretty Baby or Edward Dmytryk's Walk on the Wild Side). What a non-stop joy for the eyes is this extravagantly beautiful, visually stunning but exceedingly depressing look at day-to-day life in a turn-of-the-century brothel.
Ferouz Zaafour and Milou Sanner). I can't imagine a more stunning combina-tion of production values that seem to be quite in keeping with the time (right down to the women checking each other's hair for lice). The details of the daily grind of the demi-monde shown here seem real and really appalling, once you get past the surface beauty -- of which there is plenty. The act-resses on view, reflecting perhaps both a nod to present-day inclusion and the taste of men a-century-plus-a-decade past, are well chosen for beauty and variety (and acting ability, too). Though I suppose that all prostitutes need to be very good actresses. Or actors.
Noémie Lvovsky, at right) who has children to support, the movie takes us through the preparations, the evening's work, the following morning, a visit from the doctor to check on the health of the girls, and even the few moments of quiet conversation between them, during which, at times, hopes and wishes are expressed.
Josée Deshaies) capture some painterly composiitons, as above, and their roving camera catches these girls and women -- the eldest is now 28 -- in moments of occasional delight as well as repose.
Alice Barnole, shown above, center), rendering her useless for this line of work -- except when something kinky or bizarre is requested. This is the movie's signal "event," made more so by the fact that the filmmaker comes back at least once too often to show us how it happened (Trust us, Bertrand: We're going to remember this slashing without your repetition.)
Jasmine Trinca of The Best of Youth, Piano Solo (click and scroll down), and Crime Novel -- contracts a deadly (at the time) STD, our depression hits its nadir.
Céline Sallette, below -- live at the behest of men, and the film is feminist without ever coming close to pushing things.
IFC, it opens today, Friday, November 25, in New York City at the IFC Center. Concurrently it's available On-Demand from your local TV reception provider, and can also be seen via Sundance Now.