THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY
Having paid homage to giallo films with his unsettling horror Berberian Sound Studio, writer/director Peter Strickland turns his homage attention to the euro erotic films of the 1970’s for The Duke of Burgundy, exploring the dominant/submissive relationship between two women in the isolated world of a country house.
Given the subject of the film, you would be forgiven for having preconceived ideas about the kind of film The Duke Of Burgundy is, especially when you factor in that it is a film written and directed by a man, but you would be wrong and it’s to Strickland’s credit that he raises the film above these ideas to present a story that is erotic, unsettling, touching and (possibly most surprising) funny.
It’s a sad but true fact that most films like this would be sold on the sex first and the story second, using that to find a wider audience (a case in point would be Blue Is The Warmest Colour, a film that was preceded by its reputation of a graphic sex scene rather than the actual story in the film). Strickland opts for neither nudity nor graphic sex scenes and instead uses clothes and situations to create eroticism in a world that seems to exist both out of time and out of reality, giving the relationship a dream-like feel that is both beautiful and haunting. Both Knudsen and D’Anna are outstanding in the lead roles, portraying their relationship with subtlety and restraint that many others would have given an “Oscar Clip” performance to whenever the story would allow.
Unlike the trashier (and more questionable) 50 Shades Of Grey, the film isn’t afraid to look at the roles both women play in their relationship and allows the characters to question their places in the relationship and the effect it is having on them as individuals. It handles the gradual shift in power between the two women as the submissive begins to want more from their relationship, whilst the dominant begins to worry that she will become trapped in the dominant role and questions just how far she can take it.
There are times where the film is probably a little too arty for its own good and that is something that may not make it repeat viewing for many, but even if you watch it just the once, you will be rewarded with a love story that is intelligently handled and touchingly portrayed.
EXTRAS: Director’s Commentary / Interview with Peter Strickland / Still Gallery / Deleted Scenes / Cat’s Eyes Promo / Conduct Phase (short film) / Mole Cricket Field Notes / Trailer
INFO: CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: PETER STRICKLAND / SCREENPLAY: PETER STRICKLAND / STARRING: SIDES BABETT KNUDSEN, CHIARA D’ANNA, FATMA MOHAMED / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW