The Duke of Burgundy (2014)
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Describing this film as exploring the sado-masochistic relationship of two lesbian entomologists in Eastern Europe almost makes it sound like a parody of an art-film, and film critics are going to be falling over themselves to show off how many influences they can recognise. It's not too heavy though; the only time it was too blatant was when Strickland recreates Brakhage's Mothlight. A lot of the time it does feel like Strickland is winking at the audience, though he saves the most obvious gags for the credits, often feeling like he's pastiching lesbian fetishism and 70s arcadian European films. On the one hand this is a strength of the film in that it lightens the mood and entertains, but I do feel as though it stopped the film from entirely drawing me in. The core of the film that examines the relationship is romantic, sweet and moving: about growing old and the demands lovers put on each other in a relationship. For a film about S&M it was a lot less explicit than I thought it would be: there's no nudity and the sex is all obscured or off-screen. The metaphorical parallels were less successful: the moths and entomology never truly feel like a successful metaphor or that they sufficiently enhance the story to justify the attention paid to them. It is an interesting and beautiful film and well worth your time.
Having seen both this and Berberian Sound Studio, I can safely say I'm a fan of Peter Strickland's use of visuals and sounds and am looking forward to what he does in the future.
A fantastically stylish film. I had a couple of issues with it, but only minor ones and ultimately it's a must-see for cinephiles. Peter Strickland is a director to be very excited about.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #75 in BFI Flare's Best LGBT Films of All Time
This movie ranks #469 in The 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films