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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Mabrouk El Mechri, Carlo Da Fonseca Parsotam, Jacques Ouaniche
France 2010

 

Paris, 1871: Despite being heavily indebted to Lupin (Dan Herzberg, BEAU TRAVAIL) - whose assistance allowed the brothel to continue to operate during the siege (1870-1871), the brothel's madame Hortense (Valérie Karsenti, THE HEDGEHOG) refuses to allow the Baron du Plessis (Quentin Baillot) to settle thirty-five-year-old prostitute Vera’s (Anne Charrier, PARIS COUNTDOWN) debt (and thus free her from the brothel and Hortense’s attentions). Vera forces the issue by informing Lupin about the offer, and he threatens Hortense who accepts the baron’s money to make her own payments. Soon after the baron is murdered by Brice Caboche (Serge Dupuy) who stages it to look like a robbery; however, he has made off with a necklace which he gives to prostitute Angele (Blandine Bellavoir) which is noticed by Vera. Suspecting that Hortense had the baron murdered, Vera – forced to return to service – manipulates the investigation of Inspector Tarcy (Sébastien Libessart, TIME REGAINED), but also manages to alienate her fellow prostitutes even as she is trying to turn them against Hortense. As Hortense comes under more pressure from Lupin and the investigation – as well as a maniac who has already scarred one of her girls with acid and may strike again – she also rejects an offer of investment by her brother manipulative Paul (Nicolas Briançon, MUTANTS) who wants to use the brothel’s client list to buy his way into society (and Vera may prove a worthy ally).

Into this web of intrigue comes young Rosalie (Jemima West, TV's THE BORGIAS) in search of her long-lost mother who she wants to attend her upcoming wedding. She skulks outside of the Maison Close brothel nightly asking patrons if they know of her mother. On the night of Vera's farewell celebration, seemingly benevolent artist Edgar (Lannick Gautry, DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM) helps Rosalie gain entrance into the brothel, only to sell the virginal girl – who is sure to fetch a high price for that virtue – to the house's keeper Marguerite (Catherine Hosmalin, MAMMUTH) who cooks up a false debt that leaves her the choice of either working in the mills or in the brothel. Corrupt Commander Angelus [Jean-Marie Frin, FEMME FATALE] threatens to arrest her fiancé as a rebel when the proud girl chooses the former. After her fiancé abandons her, Rosalie – rechristened “Rose” – continues the search for her mother even as her virginity is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Actually quite chaste when it comes to onscreen depictions of sex, the first season of MAISON CLOSE grabs the viewer's attention with a series of fast-moving, interconnecting soapy intrigues that touch upon corruption, power, politics, and the dirty secrets of politicians and aristocrats (not so hard to imagine nowadays). Hortense and the prostitutes become – willingly or not – accomplices, victims (one journalist client attempts to tie the baron's murder to a political rival through Angele), or manipulators (and sometimes working at opposing goals with one another). There’s nothing glamorous in the depiction of brothel setting or the things the girls will do to get out of it (whether establishing relationships with older clients or escaping mentally through drugs as Rosalie does for the middle section of the first season), and power grabs inevitably give way to greater complications. Indeed, the first season’s truly gripping finale is not so neatly wrapped up by the seemingly shrewd machinations of Hortense, but unbalanced by the plans of others within the brothel working towards similar ends. The soundtrack mixes classical tracks with anachronistic song choices from the likes of The Bumps (the rhythms of “Please Come Down” dictate the choreography of actor and camera movement in the busy opening scene of the first episode), The Troggs, Micky Green, Brazilian Girls, and the like; but we’ve seen (heard) this technique in period films before so it doesn’t distract, but it doesn’t really comment either (incidentally, this approach was also used in Bertrand Bonello’s similarly-set 2011 feature HOUSE OF PLEASURES).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 4 October 2010 - 25 October 2010 (Season One)

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DVD Review: Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 7:02:13 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.37 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English (optional)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Episodes (with 'Play All' option):
• - #1.1 (16:9; 55:28)
• - #1.2 (16:9; 53:00)
• - #1.3 (16:9; 51:46)
• - #1.4 (16:9; 52:24)
• 

• DISC TWO:
• Episodes (with 'Play All' option):
• - #1.5 (16:9; 49:58)
• - #1.6 (16:9; 52:46)
• - #1.7 (16:9; 56:40)
• - #1.8 (16:9; 50:04)

DVD Release Date: September 3rd, 2012
Amaray in Slipcover

Chapters 32

 

Comments

Arrow Films has released MAISON CLOSE: SEASON ONE on DVD and Blu-ray (HERE). The two-disc DVD version features all eight episodes on two discs (specs online incorrectly list it as three disc). The compression of three and a half-hours on each dual-layer disc is better with this HD-lensed production than it is with some of Arrow's older TV titles. The French audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo only, although the French editions have 5.1 audio but no subtitles (the audio configuration of the Arrow Blu-ray is know know, but some of their other 1080P releases have had 5.1 tracks while the equivalent DVDs have had stereo mixes only). The English subtitles are error-free. There are absolutely no extras.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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