The Duke of Burgundy

An indie-erotic film lauded a superior alternative to Fifty Shades of Gray, The Duke of Burgundy is "a wholly magnificent work of high exotica." (The Guardian)

"Peter Strickland’s The Duke Of Burgundy risks attracting exactly the wrong crowd. For one thing, there’s no duke in the movie. Indeed, there are no men at all. For another, while the film’s central relationship involves sadomasochism, and its overripe imagery mimics softcore ’70s pictures, viewers hoping for cheap thrills will come away disappointed. Nobody even gets naked—which is clearly by design. At its core, this is one of the most incisive, penetrating, and empathetic films ever made about what it truly means to love another person, audaciously disguised as salacious midnight-movie fare. No better picture is likely to surface all year.

"Strickland opens with a dynamic between his two main characters that’s as misleading as it is provocative. Dressed in a way that suggests the past without specifying any particular period, a young woman named Evelyn arrives at the lavish home of an older woman, Cynthia. Cynthia immediately chastises Evelyn for being late, then sets her to work on a series of demeaning, Cinderella-style tasks, eventually leading to equally demeaning sexual favors. When the same sequence of events, featuring identical dialogue, recur on a subsequent day, it becomes clear that this is a consensual ritual that the two women share—a commonplace master/servant fantasy scenario. What also gradually, becomes clear is that Evelyn is quietly engineering everything that happens, while Cynthia is only involved in order to please her partner.

"Strickland is clearly a heavy-duty cinephile and he has a lot of fun early on establishing the parameters of his Eurotrash softcore aesthetic. The Duke Of Burgundy dispenses with literally anything that doesn’t meet the needs of its story. Other women are seen from time to time, but nobody does anything resembling “normal” work.

"Underneath all the kinky weirdness is a simple, deeply moving portrait of two people who love each other despite having some very different interests, and who actively work to make each other happy. Is love alone enough?

"Strickland strips away everything that would distract from that question, then places it in a context bizarre enough to slip past calcified assumptions. Against all odds, he’s made a romantic masterpiece." - Mike D'Angelo, The A.V. Club


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