« Jane Got a Gun | Main | THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE — CLASSIC FILM PICK »

February 10, 2016

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY

Duke of BurgundyWriter/director Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”) explores the power dynamics involved in a lesbian sadomasochistic relationship that exists in a utopian atmosphere of rural isolation. This is an erotic drama for adults. Leave “50 Shades of Grey” to the kiddies. This nuanced sexual tale of erotic BDSM topping from the bottom is tantalizing, titillating, and dirty in a way that only the human imagination can explore with such deviant romantic sophistication on the big screen without going full porn. Mistress/Slave. Yummy.

Duke3

Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen plays Cynthia, a butterfly expert who resides alone in a lush country mansion somewhere in Europe. Cynthia’s full-time maid Evelyn (wantonly played by Chiara D’Anna) seems to take payment for her frequently spotty work, in staged punishments that her mistress Cynthia doles out with stern deportment and appropriately black fetish attire. Formal costume precision is required. So too is a proper attitude of distant attraction.

Duke

Evelyn may be marginal in performing her house chores, but she makes up for it in the bathroom, at the service of her full-bladdered mistress. A purposely-unwashed pair of Cynthia’s soiled panties gives cause for a human-toilet golden shower session behind closed doors that leaves Evelyn hungry for more, more, more, more toilet action in the future.

Dukeburgundy

Strickland’s sensual visual touches of stylistic homage to softcore masters such as Jess Franco give the film a sustained sense of lush erotic and dramatic tension, but he allows the racy narrative to go flat. Evelyn’s outré desire for humiliation drives a lesbian relationship centered on fulfilling the couple's fetishistic desires.

Screen Shot 2020-06-03 at 2.28.36 AM

Evelyn's submissive coquettish character gains more pleasure than her older dom Cynthia does from their scripted BDSM sessions together. Equality is not all it's cracked up to be.

Duke of Burgundy

The film’s hook rests with the couple’s bottom-topping paradigm, which proves to be the key to the women's complex sensual connection. Evelyn leaves specific handwritten instructions for Cynthia to fulfill. The submissive is calling the shots. Perhaps this is the secret to the recipe. This self-scripted method for Evelyn to achieve her desired fetishistic scenarios has intrinsic limits that Cynthia isn't able to fulfill, at least not yet.

Dukeb

Although it’s clear that Evelyn is working up to serving as a full-duty (#1 & #2 — shocking, I know) human-toilet to her more mature mistress, the filmmaker inexplicably reneges on the dirty motivation. What could have given the film a truly shocking aspect evaporates when romance deposes the fetishistic elements of the women’s unique bond. Rather than the specially designed toilet chair she requests, Evelyn has to settle for a trunk where she is imprisoned overnight at the end of her mistress's bed.  

DUKE BURGUNDY2

“The Duke of Burgundy,” with its perfectly disguised title, could serve as a compass-marker for other (more daring) filmmakers to follow in the footsteps of. Mainstream cinema and pornography continue to overlap. Where are the daring, transgressive filmmakers of the 21st century? No modern-day John Waters? What is wrong with the world?

Duke2

Neither entirely frustrating nor satisfying, here is an enjoyable erotic film populated with only female characters. As such, "The Duke of Burgundy" affords the audience a much-needed break from Cinema's predominance of male influence, albeit from the director himself. It would be interesting to see how a more daring [female] filmmaker would follow the story’s fetishized elements toward their logical trajectories. Perhaps then Evelyn could achieve the transformation into a human-toilet that she desires. What then?

ColeSmithey.com

Not Rated. 104 mins. (B-) Three Stars

Cole_smithey

COLE SMITHEYHelp keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon, and get cool rewards! Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos

COLE SMITHEY’S MOVIE WEEK

COLE SMITHEY’S CLASSIC CINEMA

Throwback Thursday


Podcast Series