The Duke of Burgundy 2015 ****

Peter Strickland’s follow-up to the similarly cryptic Berbarian Sound Studio feels like a homage to 1970’s erotica, yet packs considerably more punch that the genre it takes its visual cues from- there’s little or no sex here, but the whole enterprise is drenched in a steamy, near fetid sense of anticipation. Chiara d’Anna and Sidse Babett Knudsen play two women locked in a sadomasochistic relationship, with only the appearance of a few confused neighbours and a comely bed-salesman to disturb the fun and games, which involves castigating each other for poorly folding underwear, locking each other up in wooden bedframes and being ‘human toilets’ for each other. Surreal touches, like the use of dummies to simulate extras, suggest a serious pastiche rather than a parody and point to non-literal meanings; The Duke of Burgundy’s title comes from a rare butterfly, never glimpsed in the film, and Strickland’s film is a rare erotic drama that sticks to its task with commendable brio.

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  1. I thought that this was a truly wonderful film, (also liked Berberian a lot) which I watched as Knudsedn is one of my favourite European actresses. She got the chance to show another side of herself in this erotic lesbian drama, and it was great to see her ‘let off the TV leash’.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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