Director Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio) returns with an examination of the complex nature of S&M relationships in The Duke of Burgundy. Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is a wealthy butterfly expert, who has a complicated relationship with her housekeeper and lesbian lover Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna), who thrives on Cynthia treating her cruelly in a master/slave relationship. However, as the sex games between the two get more intense, Cynthia begins to crack under the pressure of pleasing Evelyn.
While I will not say that I disliked The Duke of Burgundy, I will say that the film ended up being a bit of a disappointment for me. This is because I loved Berberian Sound Studio so much and The Duke of Burgundy did not grab onto me in the same way. Like the previous film, The Duke of Burgundy goes into some weird places, but the overlong and repetitive plot ended up being a bit too much.
While I wasn’t entirely taken in by the plot, which focuses almost entirely on the relationship between Cynthia and Evelyn, The Duke of Burgundy does have some interesting artistic flourishes to it. The film has some excellent sound editing and many visuals of butterflies and moths, including a sequence that may remind some of Stan Brakhage’s experimental short Mothlight. While The Duke of Burgundy goes on much longer than it should, and does not compare too favourably to Berberian Sound Studio, it’s still a mildly interesting, and occasionally humorous, experimental narrative on S&M relationships.
7 | FAIR
- Monday, September 8, 3:15 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 12