1899 signals the end of the century and the last days of the elegant brothel L'Apollonide. The lavishly decorated brothel is frequented by politicians, businessmen, aristocrats, and artists, but syphilis, violence, and addiction are also rife. As the rent increases at L'Apollonide, Madam and the girls are forced out.
The film is photographed as a series of beautifully composed paintings and the wickedly anachronistic use of music (mainly 1960s soul) makes the film dreamlike, eerie and entrancing. The film has been defined as archeological because of Bonello’s painstaking attention to period detail. The movie details the rules of the house and the way prostitutes lived. Briefly, L'Apollonide is claustrophobic and every day is the same: “As Bonello presents it, the Appolonide's allure has less to do with eroticism than with its cocoonlike insularity” (Sachs, 2012).
Sachs, Ben. “Living in the material world”. www.chicagoreader.com. 9 Feb. 2012