The Power and Sex in This French Brothel (TV review)

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Maison Close: Season One and Two

Set in a lavish brothel in 19th Century Paris, “Maison Close” is an irresistible French erotic drama series following the women of “The Paradise,” an infamous bordello that caters to aristocratic and bourgeois clientele known for its strange and refined practices during a time of legalized prostitution.

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Created by Jacques Ouaniche, “Maison Close” focuses on a trio of The Paradise’s most provocative women: Rose (Jemima West), a young woman, newly arrived in Paris in search of her mother, who was tricked into service at the brothel; Véra (Anne Charrier), a courtesan in her mid-thirties nearing the end of her career, hoping a wealthy customer will pay her debt and free her from servitude; and Hortense (Valerie Karsenti), the owner of The Paradise who must do whatever she can to retain her girls, keep the brothel open and steer clear of the forces intent on shutting her business down.

Season two provides deeper insight into French history with more politics, power, greed threatens the female-run business.

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The series has been praised as much for its historical accuracy and political astuteness as its bold eroticism, with Alessandra Stanley of THE NEW YORK TIMES lauding it as “Baudelaire meets The Playboy Channel.”

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“For more than three years I have been thinking of this series whose heroine is a young girl, trapped, forced to prostitute herself in a luxury brothel at the end of the nineteenth century at the beginning of the Third Republic,” says MAISON CLOSE creator Ouaniche of the series’ origins. “I wanted to uncover the daily lives of these sex workers, most of all of the women, and their privileged relationships with powerful men in a time period not so remote from ours.”

 

By turns both erotic and political, this uncompromising, finely crafted television series is the perfect mix of style and substance, a richly compelling period drama with unmistakably modern flair that reimagines age-old themes–and the world’s oldest profession–in bold new ways.

SEASON ONE

Available now on HULU and on: Amazon; Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, DVD, BD

Sneak Peek: [Not Safe For Work]

 

 

SEASON TWO

Available: Amazon Instant; Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, DVD, BD

 

For more info, visit Music Box Films

 

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