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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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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 3 January 2015
Very tedious and difficult to follow.
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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 3 April 2013
Fabulous; but the hypocrisy prevalent in the treatment of sex worker characters may make viewers angry. It certainly enraged me, but served to get me further involved in the programme, really made me sympathise with some of the female characters. Love the period feel and attention to the grubby, gorgeous details in the sets and costumes. Love it!
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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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on 25 December 2012
The storyline shows all the up and downs of brothel life which probably rings true even today. The men are all shown in a bad light whilst the women find themselves trapped by "the life" until they start to take things into their own hands. Murder, desease, sadism, lesbianism are all portrayed and so all themes are dark and realistic. I can't wait for season 2.
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on 3 October 2013
Forget Downton, if you want real intrigue, mystery, and drama with a dark edge, then get this series. The series got better as it went along, the plotting was great and kept you guessing where it was going and is set up beautifully for series two. Not for your maiden aunt but nonetheless worth watching, it's not meant to be titillating, just great drama.
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