In The Duke of Burgundy, we are thrown headfirst into a world of fetish, roleplay and bondage shared by butterfly specialist Cynthia (Knudsen) and her lover Evelyn (D’Anna). Through his acute sense of optic and sonic style, Strickland manages to create a cinematic environment so textured it convincingly approximates the at once tender and seismic feminine sexuality portrayed.
Although the erotic drama ultimately doesn’t dig deep enough into the psyche of its two protagonists, ending on some less-than-articulate, if admittedly mesmerising visual pizzazz, it asks plenty of provocative questions about the limits of intimacy, the meaning of dominance in a (sadomasochistic) relationship, and the many inexplicable mechanisms of lust. Kudos to the entire art department, especially the wardrobe for that explosion of corsets, boots, stockings, capes, wigs, gloves, etc., which played such an integral part in realising a perhaps unfamiliar but always compelling sensual landscape.
The Duke of Burgundy | Directed by Peter Strickland (UK 2014) with Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D'Anna. Starts December 3