Mona (Orsolya Torok-Illyes) arrives at a bleak social services office, where a man informs her that a report has been made concerning a child of three years of age. The child was in the care of the child’s aunt and she was made to perform for money and has also drunk brandy to make her sleep.
The social services officer understands Mona would like to resume custody of her child, but in order to do so she must explain why she left Hungary for England and what she did there. This story requires her to go back to prior to her daughter’s birth, even.
Flashback to a street party—the colours are vibrant, unlike the social services office. Some very sexy music and Mona dancing turns into a fight due to double standards. (One man fights another because man one is allowed to kiss any woman he wants but Mona isn’t allowed to dance with another man. Like I said, double standards.)
Sick of that nonsense, our lady goes to the sea and straight into a Fellini homage. There are a couple impressive dolly shots.
The sea is also where she meets Viorel (Andi Vasluianu). The third helpless man she’s met within the first ten minutes of this film.
Turns out, Viorel the Helpless is on the run from the cops for beating up a gay guy. Viorel can eat a dump. But, he has a gun, so she can’t get away from him. Personally, I think she could wrench it from his wimpy wrist, but that’s just me.
He falls asleep and she considers stealing the gun and escaping, but he has a dream about her that she can see. It gets rather Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I didn’t know if she was hallucinating or what but it turns out Viorel the Helpless Asshole can project his dreams onto other people. This endears her to him long enough to… well… now we know where the kid came from.
Cut to Mona doing a delightful puppet show at another street fair and the girl is now three or so. It’s an inventive way of getting a character’s back story without having one character state their story to another in dry exposition.
Mona’s father (Razvan Vasilescu) arrives on the scene behaving like the cover model for Skeeve Monthly and convinces her to accompany him to Germany for a ‘doctor’s appointment’.
She’s sold into human trafficking and sent to England, where she is purchased by Pascal (Shamgar Amram), the eccentric owner of an underground cabaret/sideshow which is where the title of the film comes from.
The man who purchases her is the first male who seems to have his act together…which could have been more unsettling than the previous set of idiots out there. He’s still gross as hell—he’s just more organised about it.
Bibliotheque Pascal is, literally, a library—there are bookshelves between leather platform/beds where couples of any mix are doing their thing.
It’s the most stylish, artistic bordello you’ve ever heard of. Where very rich English people partake in very specific fetishes involving literary characters like Joan of Arc (from Saint Joan), Lolita, Pinocchio, Desdemona and others.
Aaaaaand there’re a couple rapes. I mean, of course. She was forced into prostitution so she’s not going to jump for joy, but I’m so tired of the use of rape as plot point. Neither are graphic or brutal, as film rapes go, but they are there. She also makes it clear she doesn’t want to be kissed and someone kisses her anyway. It doesn’t go well for them. So there’s that. But consent, people.
This film was far darker than I thought it was going to be. I said ‘what the fuck’ under my breath on more than one occasion and one ‘what the ever-loving hell?’ It was also heavy on the magical realism or another way to look at it would be a fairytale for adults.
The projection of the dreams reminded me of lucid dreaming a bit, which isn’t something that comes up in films, so that was different.
It had a jazzy, upbeat soundtrack during transitions, which provided an interesting contrast to the dark oddness off the film. I often found myself bopping in my seat.
Bibliotheque Pascal was visually compelling. The story was unpredictable and the acting was quite good. Mona was a particular stand out.
The end of this one… There was an ending then there’s an extra scene that just made me confused. I said, ‘Well what is that supposed to mean?’ at my screen.
3/5 While I enjoyed this one, there are other films that cover the same ground better (apologies for the vagueness—I can’t say more without spoiling the entire film). If you’re into the kinks portrayed I would recommend it. I’m glad I watched it but I probably wouldn’t watch it again. Not out of distaste—just out of meh.
What’s kinky about this film: Exhibitionism, Voyeurism, Latex (full-body suit x 3), one of those vacuum suck bed deals. There’s forced head-shaving, but you don’t see it happen. The actresses head was actually shaved, though. Respect to her for that commitment.