What is it with the French and prostitution? Ever since the 19th Century (and perhaps before) Gallic art has had an odd preoccupation with ladies of the night, from Manet’s painting Olympia and Emile Zola’s novel Nana, through movies like Belle de Jour. And just in the last year there’s been the Juliette Binoche starrer Elles, as well as House Of Tolerance, which is set in a similar milieu as the TV series Maison Close.
The series charts the lives of the workers and owners in an upscale Parisian bordello called ‘Paradise’ in the 1870s. Over the eight episodes the lives, desires and tribulations of the women are uncovered. Some feel utterly trapped and degraded by the lives they’re pretty much forced to live (if they don’t please the men they risk being sold to a cheap flophouse), while others seem happier with the money and sense of empowerment they have in a male dominated society. [Read more…]