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House of the Sleeping Beauties is a 2006 film directed by Vadim Glowna.

Glowna also stars as Edmond, a businessman in his mid-60s. Fifteen years ago, his wife Monika and daughter Kiki died in a car accident that Edmond suspects was a murder-suicide—his marriage with Monika was on the rocks and they'd talked about divorce. Edmond has never recovered from the tragedy, simply going through the motions of life ever since, while mired in depression.

Edmond's friend Kogi (played by none other than Maximilian Schell) suggests a way for Edmond to snap out of his eternal funk: go to a brothel. Kogi suggests a particular brothel, and a very strange one. Edmond arrives and is surprised to find out that the woman reserved for him has been drugged into unconsciousness. The madam (Angela Winker) explains that the girls will not wake up while Edmond is there and that he must leave before they do finally wake up. She also says that Edmond is not to penetrate any of the girls, although it's more of a wink-and-a-nod acknowledgment that there's nothing to stop him.

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Edmond becomes a regular customer of the brothel, cuddling up with a succession of gorgeous, naked young women, nights that inspire him to go on long philosophical monologues about life, death, youth, and age. But there's a darker side to the brothel, even beyond the rather creepy premise. One night, Edmond sees the madam and a couple of flunkies carrying away a corpse...

An adaptation of the 1961 Japanese novel The House of the Sleeping Beauties by Yasunari Kawabata. In 2011 the novel was again adapted, much more loosely and with a Perspective Flip onto one of the sleeping women, as Sleeping Beauty.


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Tropes:

  • Comforting Comforter: A pretty weird instance of this, given the whole premise, but at one point Edmond covers a sleeping beauty with the blanket and says "you'll catch cold."
  • Dramatic Thunder: Thunder outside the brothel helps set the mood for Edmond's first encounter with a sleeping beauty.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: The Movie. Edmond has a lot of angst but he seems largely untroubled by the idea of snuggling with and feeling up women that have been drugged into sleep. The only thing that mitigates this is a scene late in the film where he sees one of the women arrive under her own power at the brothel, suggesting that the "sleeping beauties" are at least coming there of their own free will.
  • Dying Dream: The film ends with the madam poisoning Edmond, basically because He Knows Too Much. After he collapses onto the bed (which is empty of a sleeping beauty), he has a bizarre dying dream in which his experiences in the brothel as well as memories of his wife and daughter flash through his mind, intercut with shots of the madam dressed as an angel, bathed in golden light. Then he dies.
  • Erotic Film: A man goes to a strange brothel where he snuggles up with and fondles a naked, sleeping young woman.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The women are all gorgeous, and all nude—but they are also drugged into unconsciousness so a Dirty Old Man can do just about anything he wants with them, without their consent.
    • There's also Edmond with his flabby old man's body, vividly contrasting with the beautiful women.
  • Fanservice: A succession of extremely sexy naked young women for Edmond's enjoyment. But see also Fan Disservice.
  • Gilligan Cut: After the madam refuses to admit Edmond one evening, for no obvious reason, Kogi says it's suspicious and advises Edmond to not go there again. The film cuts immediately to Edmond ascending the steps of the brothel with the madam.
  • He Knows Too Much: The apparent motivation for the madam poisoning Edmond at the end. Edmond saw the madam and her goons taking away the body of a man that died on the premises (did she kill him too?), he also was there when one of his sleeping beauties died from a reaction to the sedative, he's been far too inquisitive about what goes on in the brothel, and he violated a cardinal rule by following one of the girls to the brothel after he spotted her in the street. There's also an element of Mercy Kill, as suggested by Kogi when the madam calls him.
  • High-Class Call Girl: The sleeping beauties. The whole setup is very strange, but they are sex workers, and also insanely gorgeous women who ply their trade in an old-school high-class brothel.
  • Inner Monologue: Used several times with different characters. The madam watches Edmond getting ready to crawl into bed with a sleeping beauty, and thinks "he is not a man who is at peace with himself." Towards the end of the movie, Edmond's Sexy Secretary makes some pretty obvious come-hither gestures, then wonders in voiceover if he ever does look at her.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The madam makes some weird comments about how Sleeping Beauty #2 is "more experienced" and how, later, another sleeping beauty is a "trainee". Edmond lampshades this, wondering how one can be more or less experienced at the art of sleeping.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Sleeping Beauty #1 has her hair up in a ponytail; Edmond undoes it and shakes her long, lustrous hair loose.
  • Mercy Kill: The madam, agitated after Edmond sees a sleeping beauty on the street and follows her back to the brothel, calls Kogi for advice, saying that Edmond must be "punished". Kogi basically says that Edmond is a sad old man and that she might as well put him out of his misery. So she does, poisoning him.
  • Miss Kitty: The madam, who is about the same age as Edmond. She arranges Edmond's appointments with the girls and also drugs them (in one scene she is shown with a syringe). She doesn't seem to be too serious with her rule about not penetrating the girls, but she's very strict about how Edmond must leave before the girls wake up and he must not attempt to contact any of them outside the brothel.
  • No Name Given: The madam is never named.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The film ends with a shot of the madam walking away down the street, after murdering Edmond and calling on her goons to remove the body. As she walks off there's a voiceover of her call to Kogi in which she confirms that she killed Edmond.
  • Rape as Drama: Eventually Edmond caves to temptation and rapes one of the sleeping women—or at least he seems to, although the sequence is shot obliquely. He faces no consequence for that, but ironically it's the other of the two women who dies in her sleep, which in turn leads to the madam eventually poisoning Edmond.
  • Sexy Secretary: Edmond's secretary, who at one point dangles her cleavage in front of him while giving him a letter, then deliberately shows off her rear end as she turns and bends over to get a folder off a shelf. She obviously wants him to make a pass at her, but Edmond does not take this chance for a far healthier relationship than whatever he has going with the sleeping beauties.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: The madam says that one of her girls is a trainee (?) and is shy, and had asked for another woman to sleep with her. Edmond smiles and says "Two at once? Well, it wouldn't be altogether unpleasant for a man." Later, the madam actually does arrange for two women to be sleeping for Edmond—and it goes horribly wrong.
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