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A drama centered around a married couple who opened the first legal brothel in Nevada.


Taylor Hackford


Mark Jacobson
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen Mirren ... Grace Bontempo
Joe Pesci ... Charlie Bontempo
Sergio Peris-Mencheta ... Armando Bruza
Gina Gershon ... Irene
Taryn Manning ... Mallory
Scout Taylor-Compton ... Christina
Bai Ling ... Samantha
Elise Neal ... Alana
Bryan Cranston ... James Pettis
Rick Gomez ... Tom Macy
M.C. Gainey ... Warren Stamp
Gil Birmingham ... Johnny Cortez
Emily Rios ... Muneca
Melora Walters ... Janelle
Raoul Max Trujillo ... Hernan Prado (as Raoul Trujillo)


In the mid-70s, near Reno, Grace Bontempo runs the Love Ranch, a legal brothel. Her husband Charlie, with big dreams, a felony record, and an aptitude for spending and infidelity, is the brothel's public face. On the day Grace's doctor tells her she has cancer in an advanced state, Charlie takes on new client, Argentine boxer Armando Bruza, Charlie's ticket to fame: he hopes to promote a fight with Ali. Because of Charlie's felonies, Grace is Bruza's titular manager. With the IRS and the church ladies circling the business, Grace takes the manager's role seriously and, along the way, Bruza charms her. Secrets play out: is there love at the Love Ranch? How will Charlie respond? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Story About Money, Power, Murder... And The One Thing That Makes The World Go Round. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, pervasive language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook


USA | Germany



Release Date:

6 January 2011 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Havat ha'ahava See more »

Filming Locations:

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA See more »


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$60,353, 4 July 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$134,904, 25 July 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color | Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci; and one Oscar nominee: Bryan Cranston. See more »


The Pontiac Firebird that Armando drives is a model that was not released until 1979. See more »


[first lines]
Grace Bontempo: Selling love will make you rich. That's what my mother taught me. Just don't put your heart in it.
See more »


References The $64,000 Question (1955) See more »


The More I See You
Written by Harry Warren & Mack Gordon
Performed by Keely Smith
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Focus on character, not history, wins the day
4 July 2011 | by mcknSee all my reviews

Picture a caricature of everything that America, at some level, holds dear, yet despises. Think bling, brash, frantically optimistic and determinedly selfish, and you have the main character typecast by a weathered Joe Pesci. Add to the mix an insecure, yet intelligent and reasonably efficient brothel "madam" who is trapped by economics and an irresponsible, hyperactive, and deliberately delusional husband, and. you have a marriage which must resonate across the globe.

The film opens with an ironic and trite hope for the future. Auld Lang Syne is sung at a New Year's Eve party, which Robert Burnes, no stranger to joys of the flesh himself, would possibly have avoided. A stark naked man who has transcended the bounds of good taste, and possibly the law, is driven by the "Madam" (Helen Mirren) into the waiting furniture wielded by her husband, Pesci. The tame police in attendance remove the problem and the party continues.

Gradually the dynamics of the Pesci/Mirren relationship are revealed. She actually likes her charges and comforts herself in the knowledge that she is keeping them off the streets.

He struts around like a dove with an over-inflated breast, a disgustingly showy car with the vanity plate "LUV SEX", and the nickname of "Mr Good Times". He is a man whose very posture suggests violence, and he has only to threaten to smash the home telephone, her link to the outside world, to ensure that her timid attempt at rebellion turns into a whimpering desire to please him.

Pleasing him in the only way he understands is not that easy as she is older than the available nymphets and is very aware that his sudden business calls are not to any office block. The marriage of financial and social convenience could, theoretically, have lasted for years, as many convenient couples will attest, but reality has the unpleasant habit of intruding. A visit to the doctor and plastic convenience is stripped away. The selfishness of her husband is expertly conveyed in his answer to her questioning his love for her. "I *** love you," he says, "I could have never found a woman as loyal as you to take my s***." It says everything that he is totally unaware of the egocentric nature of his declaration of love.

Later, when their world is falling apart, and she is experiencing loss, and almost claustrophobic grief,he rails at her that she doesn't know what the **** he went through all night.

The tragic moment which announces the end of the film is justified by the quality of the acting. Yes, this could happen, and be a small article on the front page of the morning newspapers, but the film has made its point before the actual violence. It is all about self, the need for self-validation at the expense of others, the need to be desirable, the need to be in control, and even the need to be physically dominant while all these have inevitably and irrevocably been taken away by time.

It is a film worthy of a second viewing, if only to enjoy the performance of Pesci (which he has reprized from Goodfellas) and the revelation which is Helen Mirren. That she could go from the ultra- British role as the Queen to this, without a trace of genteel accent, but retain all the pathos of a woman who wants to love her husband and her life, is remarkable. Even the director gives her credit in an in- joke. When her husband dons a hat in keeping with his personality, she asks him who he thinks he is, 'Clint Eastwood'. He replies: "Who do you think you are? The Queen of England?"

Eminently watchable, character-driven, and filmed with an understated slickness, this is a film which might, regrettably, not set the box office alight, but which is very worth viewing for so many reasons. True, there are elements that echo events in some well-known films, which my spoiler-conscience prevents me from naming, but it is safe to say that this film strips the sentimentality from such and is the better for it. Taylor Hackford, I look forward to your next.

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