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4.1 out of 5 stars34
4.1 out of 5 stars
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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on 28 December 2013
This is NOT one of those French tales which, at the end, leaves you wondering what was going on. No, indeed. This is truly French drama at it's very best. Despite being set in a French brothel, the story itself seems designed not to titillate, but to educate the viewer as to the truly terrible situation the women in this establishment find themselves in. In my view, the scenes have been carefully executed to exclude any unnecessary sex & nudity, although being set in a brothel, some such scenes are to be expected, and there is a fair amount of violence, which many would find distressing. Costumes and sets are extremely good, the acting is brilliant, and the storyline is gripping. I watched this whole series with my husband, and we had no idea how the storyline would unfold. Then I ordered series 2, as we've just got to find out what happens next. The series is in French, with English subtitles. My French is not wonderful, but the diction is good, and I was able to follow much of the dialogue.
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on 18 September 2012
Amazon's product description is quite correct concerning the general plot but what it doesn't properly capture is the atmosphere. This is a very dark, gritty and at times even brooding description of the people working in Paradis which is the center of the attention here, the brothel. Violence is very present most of the time and even disease raises its ugly head. No comedy or stuff to be laughed at here. There's no glorification of what the "working girls" are doing and they do get their share of violence and oppression going to the level of slavery. There's even a rape scene which certainly wasn't something nice to watch. Age classification (18) was spot on, this isn't for the youngsters.

The plot is captivating though and you get the feel for the main characters and learn to feel sympathy for the oppressed women. You will want to know what happends to them and will they make it to the end.

Production value is top notch meaning everything feels authentic right down to the buidings, architecture and clothing. It really feels like you are in Paris 1871.

As far as product details go Amazon's details are very vague. The series spans across 2 discs (not three, there's no "button" for a third disc) containing 8 episodes total. No extras.

Video is H.264 AVC 1080i/50 meaning basically 1080p25 (this is OK if filming was done using 25 frames/s). Video quality leaves much to be desired. Level of detail is very rich (especially clothing looks magnificent) but vertical banding is present even in daylight scenes and there's a lot of digital noise which shouldn't be there. This is distracting at times but won't ruin the experience.

Audio is French 2CH LPCM which is also a bit of a disappointment since you kind of expect to get atleast 5.1 HD sound nowdays. Engligh subs work fine and the level is translation seems to be perfectly fine.

Final words: plot is captivating and if the generic concept interests you then you should definitely pick up this series, you will get hooked. There are some technical issues but they won't ruin the experience.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 March 2016
I really enjoyed this French TV series (with English sub-titles). I watched it on Blu-ray, and the picture and sound quality is excellent.

This series is about a group of women who live and work in a brothel in Paris in 1872, in the months following the Paris Commune. So the city is in turmoil, and the government is maintaining order through a show of force. This involves an effort to keep 'moral order' - and, in turn, this impacts upon the control of prostitution.

We see how these women live, and the effect working as a prostitute has upon them. It is, in many ways, an ensemble piece - with several cast members having lead roles. Nonetheless, there are two women - one in her late teens, one in her late thirties - who take centre stage in the story-arc. The elder woman is doin all she can to leave her job as a prostitute, but finds this impossible. The younger woman finds herself forced into prostitution, and she suffers greatly as she attempts to resist what is happening to her.

This is a period drama, and it works brilliantly. Oddly, contemporary music is played - but this does, somehow, benefit the show.

All in all, an excellent TV series. It was followed by a second season.
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on 2 March 2013
This 8-part (7 hour) French Series was filmed in 2010, and it's surprising that it hasn't appeared here sooner. At first glance this serial might look like a predictable tease-show, but this is one of the most enthralling historical dramas seen for a long time. It is set in Paris just after the fall of Napoleon III, and events centre on a brothel where the girls struggle to exist in a brutally exploiting environment. The merciless human realism in this tense drama lifts it out of its historical setting, and it has powerful dramatic truth.

The first thing that strikes you about the Series is the marvellous lighting and photography. There are frequent after-dark scenes, and the magical way they are photographed is often breathtaking. There is pin-sharp focus on the characters, but the surrounding dark, and the shadows from lamps and candles are wonderfully realised. However, nothing is sentimentalised here, in the setting or the story. There is shabbiness, ugliness and disturbing cruelty, the realism is unvarnished. This is a closed world -as it looked before electricity changed the night. The superb costumes and sets provide a stunning picture of a hidden Paris in the 1870's, brought to very convincing life.

The wonderful French actors in 'Maison Close' restore your faith in film-acting. We look for believable feeling in drama -and here, for once we find it ! Very well cast, the performances in 'Maison Close' are consistently true- almost nothing looks artificial or posed. This is acting from within, gripping the attention. We suddenly enter a shocking, desperate world, where real people are trapped on the edge of survival in an utterly ruthless setting.

What happens to these people, much of it heartbreaking, holds the viewer from the start, and this has little to do with the sexy milieu, which (surprisingly) is not exploited but portrayed with unusual frankness. This Series is so full of authentic feeling that the sexual aspect becomes just part of the unfolding human story. This is sometimes very tough stuff, and may not be everyone's cup of tea -however this is an exceptional thriller from every point of view, don't miss it.
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on 17 May 2015
As with many good stories, this subscribes to the policy of effective character and plot building although it achieves this very smartly within the first two episodes. Nicely paced overall in keeping with the period it depicts. Strange but somehow very engaging use of modern instrumentation and vocalisation in much of the score; obviously anachronistic but still suits the scenes in which its used very well. I don't think I've ever seen any sort of depiction of a brothel. This works for me because it addresses the total lack of opportunity for these girls in any other role in life at the time given their respective backgrounds, the ease with which a girl could get caught up in this rather depressing lifestyle and the brutal commodification of young female sexuality (what's changed?!). Sumptuously gorgeous photography in places. Annoying placement of subtitles means it's either a strain to see just the top of the letters in the bottom line or you have to slightly squash the image to read it clearly. No matter, it's a great and unique series.
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on 15 October 2012
Maison Close is a terrific drama set in a brothel in 19th century Paris. The complex loves and lies of the characters are fascinating. I think it really benefits from a second or third viewing as it is easy to loose who is double crossing who. The intriguing love hate relationship between the brothels madam and her brother are at the heart of a lot of what happens.

The theme of the drama is adult, so you have to watch the volume control on your tv! However Maison Close is about so much more than sex. The plot is intricate and you are soon immersed in a complex web of intrigues, double crosses and betrayals. All of the characters have secrets and a tale to tell. There is no out and out hero or villain and the plot has great depth and complexity. The sound track is a curious mix of modern sounding tunes and more typical "drama" type music.

All in all this is a great series. I think (and hope)that there is a second series on French tv that may develop the plot even further.
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on 20 October 2012
It's true this offering is about an uncompromising and gritty look at life in a Paris bordello, with it's fair share or more of violence, exploitation and sex, but as has already been remarked, it's about so much more than that. The plot is full of double crosses which had me at times working hard to keep up, but the twist at the end of the series was masterful and unexpected.

Some of the shots are dark - and I mean in the sense it isn't always easy to see what's going on! - and initially I didn't know if I'd be put off by the fact the series is in french with subtitles, but to be honest, after the first ten minutes I didn't even notice the fact I was following subtitles (only disadvantage being I couldnt watch this whilst doing the ironing - look away at a crucial moment and you have to rewind to keep up. But really - its not one for watching while you're ironing!)

It isn't all stark - there are some keenly observed moments of humour, chiefly with "the girls" - striking back in the only ways that they can. Watch out for the Phrenologist for example.
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on 4 August 2015
This is a fantastic series, gritty French Drama, subtitled. I followed the subtitles ok whilst still able to get into the drama. I liked the music choices used and will probably get the music cd too. Got the second series ready to watch now. It has lost a star as it isn't as good as our British Dramas, but nearly there.
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on 9 April 2014
There is more to it than just romping. It has a coherent story with good twists and turns and surprise ending. The only thing that seems to be a bit sloppy is the music. It just sounds wrong to use 20th century music in this 19th century story.
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on 31 October 2012
Enjoyable and revealing account of a Maison Close and its occupants. A complex story involving young and more mature women, and their relationships with the men who come to such places.
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