House of Pleasures | Chicago Reader

House of Pleasures

In films like The Pornographer (2001) and On War (2008), French writer-director Bertrand Bonello tells odd, deliberately impenetrable stories that evoke such writers as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Nikolai Gogol. This minimalist period piece, set almost entirely inside a Paris brothel around 1900, is Bonello's most satisfying movie to date because the subject meshes so well with his style. The narrative floats dreamily from one episode to the next, emphasizing mood and period detail over character and plot. Though superficially about eroticism, it's really concerned with our distance from the 19th century and what may have been lost in the gap. Bonello's mannerist approach isn't for everyone, but his morbid nostalgia can be entrancing. Also known as House of Tolerance and L'Appolonide (Souvenirs de la maison close). In French with subtitles.



  • Bertrand Bonello


  • Hafsia Herzi
  • Céline Sallette
  • Jasmine Trinca
  • Adele Haenel
  • Noémie Lvovsky
  • Alice Barnole
  • Iliana Zabeth


  • Bertrand Bonello
  • Kristina Larsen

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