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Thursday, July 18, 2024

House of Lust (Digital Movie Review)


The Film


An author goes undercover as a sex worker in a brothel as research for her next novel.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

House of Lust is a 2022 drama film about Emma, who is a writer living in Berlin. Her new book will be about sex workers, and she starts working as a sex worker at La Maison brothel, so as to write from a more realistic point of view. The film is based on Emma Becker’s 2019 novel of the same name.


Emma is a French writer living with her sister, Madeleine, in Berlin. She has a sexual affair with a married colleague, and is experiencing writer’s block after her last two popular books. Her new idea is to write a book about prostitution. But for her sister’s strong opposition she begins working as a sex worker at La Maison brothel. There she will experience the good and bad parts of being a prostitute concerning sex, romance, and the dangers of the profession.

The script has indeed many clichés and sometimes prostitution is idealized. It is not about the dilemma wanting to be a sex worker or being forced to do it by circumstances. What I mean is that, in the film we see that working at a brothel is presented as the ideal type of work, with much more days off than a real work, more money and less exhaustion. All of the sex workers get on well with each other, have an amazing time in breaks and bond, which looks unrealistic. In reality, it is hard for a person to have an amazing relationship with everyone in workplace, let alone in a brothel. In such cases, there is always competition and fights about stealing each other’s clients. Every individual goes through their own personal struggles, which might make them shut others out. It seemed too good to be true.

At the same time, I found weird that in this brothel we never see the male boss. Moreover, there are no men to make sure that any physically abusive client gets dismissed from the place. We only have the sex workers and there is the female power concept, still, if any of them gets abused by a client nobody is there to save them and that is unrealistic. Why would someone deliberately choose to work in such a place?

The movie’s plot feels flat. There is not much dialogue, no real character development, and after a while you start wondering whether you have a reason to continue watching. Sexually explicit scenes overwhelm the viewer. What actually bewildered me though, is that we have full male and female nudity, and it was not always necessary. It is obvious that the sex scenes work as a time filler, since 80 percent of it is sex scenes, which most of the time do not aid the storytelling.

There is this subplot when later the protagonist, Emma, starts dating someone. Everything about these two is unconvincing, from their sex scene, to their everyday routine. It was poorly executed, we never learnt much about these two, and it is sad. In general, all we have is style over substance.

“The big moment” that Emma needed to be done with her book is a very disturbing incident happening towards the end. Because of this unsettling event, we finally see the harsh reality of being a prostitute. At this point some of the clichés we saw before are forgiven, since the last act was very powerful.


Emma is the main protagonist. She is a writer and decides to become a prostitute, in order to have a realistic point of view about her new book, which will be about sex workers. Emma is lost experiencing a writer’s block and seems to be struggling a lot with emotional intimacy. She is having a sexual type of relationship with a married colleague, who calls friend.
Stephane is Emma’s colleague and friend, who is married and has a sexual relationship with her. He really seems to care for her. He becomes very worried about her prostitution and tries to convince her to quit.
Madeleine is Emma’s younger sister, staying with her at the same house. She is against her sister’s decision to be a sex worker. She is expressing her concerns that “it is something that will stay with her forever”.

Characters in general are underdeveloped except for the one of Emma. We have the sex workers, but in fact we do not learn much about them. The same goes for Ian, Emma’s later romantic interest.


Ana Girardot’s performance as Emma was bland and lifeless. Her facial expressions are the same throughout the movie. Only towards the end she shows some real emotion and this is worth acknowledging.


My favorite part of the film was the direction by Anissa Bonnefont. The techniques and the angles she uses are interesting enough to continue watching, and the atmosphere is full of allure and mystery. Cinematography by Yann Maritaud is stunning, while I also liked the production design with the interior of the rooms in the brothel. It is one of these cases where I enjoyed the technical aspect, but not the movie per se.


The ending was nothing new, nothing special, and leaves some questions unanswered if you have not already read the book.

House of Lust is out on various VOD platforms in the US March 26th 2024 from MPI Media Group & Capelight Pictures.

  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: MPI Media Group | Capelight Pictures
  • Director: Anissa Bonnefont
  • Written By: Anissa Bonnefont | Diastème
  • Country: France
  • Language: English Dubbed
  • Run Time: 89 Mins.
  • Release Date: 26th March 2024 (USA VOD)

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An author goes undercover as a sex worker in a brothel as research for her next novel.House of Lust (Digital Movie Review)