MAISON CLOSE: SEASON ONE
MAISON CLOSE is a drama about the human condition — although those watching it might first find it titilating due to its theme: the goings-on at a French brothel during a time when such was legal in the late 1800s. But it’s definitely more of a human drama than it is about exhibitionism, and being a French production, subtitles provide the English for the American and other viewer who doesn’t speak French. This is more fitting for viewing since often dubbed voices don’t match the “look” of the actress and distract much more than having to read text.
The box set contains all of season 1 — which being unrated might sound as if it has to have an “anything goes” attitude. But in general and compared to that found in HBO and other productions, MAISON maintains a dignity for its subject. Which, being a brothel, must revolve around a cast of characters who typify and embody both the good and bad of the brothel itself, as well as of the times that it is set in.
The storyline features three characters, although it spreads outward, and they reinforce the “reality” of this series: the madame of the brothel, a skilled prostitute at the brothel, and a naive young women who is swept into the life. To say that their lives are carefree is to make a bad joke. That’s not to say that the show is predominantly “heavy” and sad, but there is a workaday attitude towards life that is certainly oppressive and dark, even as this is fought off, allowed to brush by and ignored (such as is possible). Some call this series (Season One is from 2010) a “racy French thriller” and one can see the value of that. But most importantly it strives to present the mores of the times and does so well.
The production itself is well done and for a “period piece” there is no jarring disconnects between the reality of the times and what can be duplicated via the artisans behind the camera. It’s to the credit of the production that the drama is so compelling that little mistakes would be overlooked: but none are there. Being a Blu-ray disc, and so high definition, one enjoys a rich palette of colors and detail that add to the illusion of viewing a place in time that no longer exists. Or at least not as performed here.
MAISON CLOSE: SEASON ONE is unrated and presented in 5.1 surround, although the most important “sounds” are those of what the actors are saying (ambient sounds do provide a more immersive viewing experience than if it was just stereo). A collector’s booklet is part of the package and contains production notes, photos and interviews; making for a nice keepsake of what the program represents.