Madeline (Alice Barnole), the tragic figure in the “House of Pleasures,” is a prostitute known as “the woman who laughs” at L’Apollonide, an elegant Parisian brothel at the end of the 19th century. Early in the movie, when she entertains a handsome young client who produces an emerald, she wonders out loud if the gift is a proposal. But this tender moment is only a dream. The young man, who confesses that he wants to hurt her, has other things in mind. In a subsequent encounter, he coaxes her into letting him tie her up. He produces a knife, trails it lightly across her naked body and between her lips, then slashes both corners of her mouth, while she emits a rending scream. For the rest of the film Madeline’s carved smile is identical to the Joker’s grin in the “Batman” movies. Throughout the film there is an abundance of sumptuously photographed flesh on view. But “House of Pleasures” is not an erotic stimulant so much as a slow-moving, increasingly tragic film set almost entirely in the brothel. The heavy candlelit chiaroscuro paints the women as mobile Renoirs, Degases and Manets. The soundtrack, uses “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues and excerpts from “La Bohème” for maximum contrast and dramatic effect.