This languid yet claustrophobic drama is set within the confines of L’Apollonide, a Parisian brothel circa 1900. We’re immersed in the routines and rituals of the female prostitutes, in a world smelling of “sperm and champagne”.
Cutting backwards and forwards in time, and making expressive use of anachronistic music (‘Nights In White Satin’), writer/director Bertrand Bonello brews a rich atmosphere.
Paying tribute to the workers’ camaraderie, he never loses sight of the danger they face, nor their slave-like status. “Fucking,” says one wearily, “is a fuck-awful job.”
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