House of Tolerance – Empire review

House of Tolerance

Plot
A group of Parisian prostitutes from a struggling backstreet brothel rely on friendship and sisterhood to get them through each day.

Review

Hidden in the backstreets of Paris lies Bertrand Bonello’s House Of Tolerance. A brothel at night,by day a home for hookers; prey to a debt-riddled Madame and the secret wants of masked men. Washing champagne and semen from their skin, Bonello’s sex workers cajole, caress and dress in careworn finery before drifting downstairs to wait idly on their regulars. Ritually humiliated, they’re still capable of a potent sisterhood. We’re thrown into this world headfirst, in the period detail and the grace of an ensemble cast spurred by the easy motions of Bonello’s camera. But this grows overlong, opaque and impressionistic, the spattering of lucid drama swallowed by scenes of ogling fetish.

Verdict

Erotically charged but overlong and untroubled by too much plotting.

Published in Empire January 2012 edition

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