Taking place at the turn of the 20th century, House of Pleasures is a immersive look an elegant, upper-class brothel in it's final few weeks/days leading up to it's closure. The film is a unexploitative, genuine look into the life of a whore, where we are shown their daily lives essentially forcing the viewer to think and feel about these individual, understanding their struggles and viewing their humanity. There is no central character, rather an ensemble of these woman who make up the brothel. Far more of the film is spent examining these characters "off duty" where we get a very detailed understanding of the type of people they are. We see the conversations these woman have over dinner, as well as discussions on their profession, with many of the woman dreaming of paying off their debt and being free from the Brother. While each character is well-developed, two characters in this film stood out to me. One being a prostitute who becomes a side-show freak for sorts whom they refer to as "the woman who laughs". Her character would be the closest thing to a central performance, given the narrative essentially lives and dies around her circumstances, but it certainty never feels like her story. I also found Lea's character, 'The Tall One" to be compelling because of the great dichotomy her character inhabits as a person who is two completey different people while with her customers and while away. The bitterness and disdain she has is relatively apparent in her performance, yet she has this calm, sad demeanor that she knows nothing will ever change. This is a story about all the woman, and how the Madam of the brothel in reality cares more about appeasing her clientele than worrying about the woman she employs.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.