|Original title:||L'Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close)|
|Production country:||Frankreich 2011|
|Running time:||Ca. 122 Min.|
Paris in 1899: In L'Apollonide, one of the noblest brothels of the Belle Epoque, the signs point to upheaval shortly before the turn of the millennium. On the outside, decadence of the finest is still lived out, champagne is consumed en masse and the sight of the beautiful ladies of the house is enjoyed in the pretty salon. But beautiful appearances are deceptive. Since the rent for the house is to be increased, L'Apollonide is about to be closed. A catastrophe for the mostly highly indebted girls. The bloody assault of a suitor on Madeleine (Alice Barnole), the appearance of the young Pauline (Iliana Zabeth), opium addiction and fear of Syphillis determine the last days in the "House of Sin" - but for the customer the appearance is preserved until the last second...
Director Bertrand Bonello, who with his celebrated film "The Pornographer" had taken a moving and at the same time honest look at work in the porn industry, wanted to process two ideas at once in "House of Sin": on the one hand he had planned some years ago to shoot a documentary about modern brothels, which finally failed. On the other hand, he absolutely wanted to shoot a film in which a group of women in a self-contained microcosm is the focus of attention. The "House of Sin" was, of course, ideally suited for this purpose. With the exception of a small, sun-drenched scene set on an idyllic lake, the events only take place in the rooms of L'Apollonide. In the opulent salon, in the somewhat simpler rooms where the women fulfil the wishes of their customers and in the rather barren rooms where they live. The equipment is great, the camera work draws the viewer directly into the action and the music creates a constant uneasiness, which stands in stark contrast to the gracefully staged bodies of the women.
So there is a certain fascination inherent in the drama, which captivates, although actually not much really happens. There are many long attitudes that are meaningless and far too excessive in themselves. But in the overall context, the whole thing works - provided, of course, that it succeeds in getting involved with what is happening. For example, when Spilt-Screen shows how the girls spend their free time, do the housework, eat together or cuddle up with each other, or how they behave like a doll for their clients, bathe in champagne or have their pubic hair cut off as a trophy, this can be a nerve-wracking experience for the audience. But whoever succeeds in getting involved in the somewhat unwieldy staging will perhaps be able to recognize that the film is by no means as meaningless as it seems at first glance.
Alongside the fascinating interplay of equipment, camera work and music, it is above all the actresses who leave a lasting impression. Whether Noémie Lvovsky as Madame, the head of the brothel, Alice Barnole as Madeleine, disfigured by a suitor, or Illiana Zabeth as young Pauline, who has to become a woman far too early, they all make sure that Bonello's plans to trace life in a brothel from the prostitute's point of view have succeeded despite some lengths. No question, "House of Sin" is a particularly bulky arthouse cinema where spirits will divorce. But maybe that's what makes the movie so challenging and interesting. If you think you are interested in the story and would like to get involved in more difficult films, you can visit the "House of Sin" once in a while.
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp