This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


“Bibliotheque Pascal,” Reviewed

“Bibliotheque Pascal,” Reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

Reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

How in the world did director Szabolcs Hajdu convince investors to give him the money to make his new film, “Bibliotheque Pascal?” Given its highly unconventional style and incredibly horrific subject matter, I can only assume Hajdu is one of the most charming and persuasive salesmen in the entire world. Oh to be a fly on the wall of that pitch meeting:

Investors: So what do you have for us?

Szabolcs Hajdu: I want to make a film about people who can project their dreams into other people’s minds.

I: Oh great. That’s interesting. So where does the story go?

SH: To an underground sex club in England where women are kept as slaves.

I: Um, wow. Ok. I don’t know that I see the connection to the dream projection but —

SH: And there’s also some fairy tale stuff in there as well.

I: That’s fine. Can we just go back for a second to the sex slaves?

SH: Literary themed sex slaves.

I: Literary themed sex slaves?

SH: The women are given names like Joan of Arc and Desdemona. Then they have to read excerpts from classical literature while they’re raped and maybe killed.

[Awkward silence]

This all ties in to the subtext about the nature of roleplaying and self-deception as well as to ideas about storytelling, which relates to one of the sex slaves and her former life in Romania with her daughter, who’s one of the people who can project her dreams.

[Awkwarder silence]

I: Well, it does have sex in it…

And scene. Somehow this conversation ends with the phrase “Here’s a whole bunch of money. Go make your movie.” And that fact, to me, is almost as insane as the movie itself.

All those crazy elements — the dream projection, the sex slavery, the fairy tales, the exploration into the nature of storytelling — coexist in this one surreal film. It tells the story of Mona (Orsolya Török-Illyés), a Romanian woman who, through a extremely convoluted series of events, winds up as a sex slave in a “classy” English brothel named Bibliotheque Pascal. Story is the key word here, since Mona is describing these events to a case worker who must decide whether or not Mona, back home after her ordeal, is fit to care for her daughter again. The story she tells also includes numerous additional nods to the art of storytelling, as when Mona makes her living as a street performer giving puppet shows. That’s before her own father convinces her to accompany him on a trip abroad and sells her into slavery.

The most interesting moments take place in the repulsive Bibliotheque Pascal. The ringleader of this sadistic circus is Pascal (Shamgar Amram), first seen delighting a well-dressed audience with a charming and witty display of magic. Then he visits an underground slave market and selects Mona as his new Joan of Arc. Not so charming anymore.

Mona’s locked into a room, dressed in army fatigues, forced to memorize some of Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan,” and regularly assaulted. These scenes are deeply, deeply upsetting, largely because of Amram’s memorable performance as Pascal, a master showman and sadist who tells Mona that she is better off locked away in his dungeon and genuinely seems to believe it. The film has a perfectly rational explanation for its fantastical elements, including the fact that Mona’s lover and daughter, possess the ability to share their dreams with the people around them, but to discuss it in detail would spoil a major part of an ending that is, like the rest of the film, equally fascinating and frustrating.

”Bibliotheque Pascal” takes risks. Many of them do not pay off. But at least it takes them. The number one complaint of critics — and I’ll lump myself in with this group — is that there are no original movies, that one film after another is just another float in an unending parade of homogeneity. “Bibliotheque Pascal” is put up or shut up time for that kind of thinking. The characters are flat, the ending, which redefines everything that’s come before it in the picture, will anger many viewers, and the plot is such a slow burn that the embers threaten to stop smoldering altogether on a couple of occasions. But “Pascal” also doesn’t look like any movie you’ll see in a theater this year. If we really value originality, then this movie deserves some amount of credit. So does the director. I still don’t know how he got this thing made.

Watch More

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

Watch More

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Watch More

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

Watch More