6.7/10
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House of Tolerance (2011)

L'Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 25 November 2011 (USA)
At an elegant Parisian bordello at the dawn of the 20th century, exists a cloistered world of pleasure, pain, hope, rivalries, and most of all, slavery.

Director:

Bertrand Bonello

Writer:

Bertrand Bonello (scenario)
4 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Noémie Lvovsky ... Marie-France
Hafsia Herzi ... Samira
Céline Sallette ... Clotilde
Jasmine Trinca ... Julie
Adèle Haenel ... Léa
Alice Barnole Alice Barnole ... Madeleine
Iliana Zabeth ... Pauline
Pauline Jacquard Pauline Jacquard
Judith Lou Lévy Judith Lou Lévy ... (as Judith Lou Levy)
Anaïs Thomas Anaïs Thomas
Maia Sandoz Maia Sandoz ... (as Maïa Sandoz)
Joanna Grudzinska Joanna Grudzinska
Esther Garrel
Xavier Beauvois
Louis-Do de Lencquesaing
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An Aesthetic Shock.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

25 November 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

House of Tolerance See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France

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Box Office

Budget:

EUR4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,766, 27 November 2011

Gross USA:

$19,327

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,389,920
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.23 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Bad Girl Part 1
(1967)
Written by 'Lee Moses'
Performed by 'Lee Moses'
Courtesy of Musicor Records
(Used in trailer)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Poetic, unique, sad and haunting film
11 November 2014 | by runamokprodsSee all my reviews

This takes place in a Paris brothel just before and just after the start of the 20th century. While there is a lot of nudity and sex, the film is almost always anti-erotic, as it is so clear that the women are less than enthusiastic participants. Interestingly, I found the only moments with any erotic charge were moments between the women themselves, who support each other in what amounts to indentured servitude. Occasionally we feel the heat of human connection between them in a look, a touch, and that is far more sensual than anything they share with their clients, which is often degrading, and occasionally violent.

The film is a look at the trap poor women found themselves in, when being a prostitute was one of the only ways to make your own money, and other professions had just as many drawbacks (one woman speaks of giving up being a washer-woman because her lungs were becoming damaged from breathing ammonia all day). But the irony is, the 'expenses' of being a well kept prostitute (from room and board to perfume) are more than the women can take in, so they inevitably fall deeper and deeper into debt. Like sharecroppers, they soon 'owe their soul to the company store'.

This isn't a naturalistic film in the usual sense. It jumps around in time – something we sometimes only realize because we'll see a moment we'd watched earlier happen a second time, but in this case from a new perspective or in a new context. It's 'slow' by our usual standards, and is less about plot than about captured moments that build to something larger. It also uses anachronistic, modern music to great effect. But for all it's intentional artifice, there is a feeling of an honest sort of hyper-reality here. In the same way a poem can capture the feeling of a sunny day better than a lot of scientific explanation, so too does this poetic film capture a complex and sad world in a way that lets you feel a sense of understanding and empathy more than straight forward naturalism might.

The film-making itself is of a very high order. The cinematography and acting are both first rate, and there is a sequence near the end that combined acting, images and music to give me chills in the rare way sequences by great film-makers can sometimes do. Not every choice works, but this is a bold, challenging and emotional film. It doesn't tell you what to think, it just creates a world, invites you inside and allows you to draw your own conclusions. I suspect I will get even more from it on a second viewing.


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