Irish Film Institute -Rue des plaisirs

Rue des plaisirs

The first of two new films from director Patrice Leconte in the festival, Rue des plaisirs is a stunningly designed romantic fable set in a Paris brothel. The film opens in the early 1950s, with a group of street prostitutes reminiscing about the good old days when they could enjoy the benefits of comfortable brothels before the government outlawed such establishments in 1948. They recall the story of Marion (Laetitia Casta), the prostitute who made something of her life, and her strange relationship with Little Louis (Patrick Timsit), who was born and raised in the Oriental Palace, a cosy and well-upholstered house of pleasure.
Louis is one of Leconte’s romantic dreamers whose pursuit of an impossible love cannot be sustained in the cold light of reality. The brothel becomes another of those claustrophobic spaces where the director’s fantasists are often cocooned, like the hairdressing salon in Le Mari de la coiffeuse or the flat in Monseiur Hire. Louis was born in the brothel and has spent all his life surrounded by women who mother him. Having fallen in love with newcomer Marion, the stubby little fellow believes that he isn’t good enough for the statuesque beauty. He selflessly devotes himself to catering for his beloved’s every need, which includes masterminding a singing career and even finding her a suitable mate. As one would expect, Leconte views his characters sympathetically and is never judgmental. The enormously stylish Rue des plaisirs is another of his melancholy and touching portraits of the vagaries of the human heart.
France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 85 mins.

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