House of Tolerance DVD
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Directed by Bertrand Bonello
Produced in 2011
Main Language - French with English subtitles
Languorous and opulent, with stunning, crepuscular photography, Bonello's study of a fin-de-siecle brothel is one of the most ravishing films in recent years, says James Oliver.
As the nineteenth century bled into the twentieth, 'closed houses' – or 'houses of tolerance' – were high-class bordellos where a well-to-do gentleman might enjoy some female company and good, clean fun. At least that's how the punters saw it; as this outstanding film shows, life was far harder for the unfortunate souls who were engaged there.
Set in one of Paris's premier maisons, House of Tolerance shows the cost of the 'innocent fun' – the women endure violence, infection and addiction; they sustain themselves with sisterly comradeship, but it's not always enough. Although set over a hundred years ago, it's clear the issues of exploitation remain regrettably topical.
While the subject is grim, director Bertrand Bonello films it beautifully; it's no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most ravishing films in recent years, with opulent design and stunning, crepuscular photography. Utterly languorous, it's sometimes dreamlike, sometimes inscrutable. It's seldom comfortable, of course, but this is sensational filmmaking, immersive and enveloping. It's the best film about prostitution since Belle du Jour.
James Oliver on 25th April 2012
Author of 147 reviews
Selected for official competition at Cannes 2011 and nominated for 8 French Césars, Bertrand Bonello's House of Tolerance is a stylised and languid look at the final days of a turn-of-the-century brothel in Paris.
Champagne and opium oil the workings of the house, which is presided over by the sweet-natured Madame, Marie-France, herself a former prostitute. As the regulars come and go, each with his own particular set of sexual preferences and perversions, the ever-resourceful working women find ways to cope with the more dangerous aspects of their trade.
Publisher: Universal Pictures
Length: 125 mins
Cat No: 8289914
Format: DVD Colour
- A House of Illusions: The Making of the Film's Prologue
- Rehearsal Sessions
- Interviews with Director and Cast.