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The Duke of Burgundy | Film review – Kinky folie á deux is a sensual, strange and utterly compelling romance

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British director Peter Strickland's follow up to his haunting film rape-revenge thriller Katalin Varga (opens in new tab) and art-house giallo Berberian Sound Studio (opens in new tab) is his most offbeat film yet, a sensual, strange and utterly compelling romance.

Opening with shots of a demure young woman cycling through leafy woods to the dreamy strains of alt-pop duo Cat’s Eyes (opens in new tab)The Duke of Burgundy appears to be taking us into decidedly kinky territory after the cyclist wheels up to the front door of an ivy-clad mansion and begins work as a maid for a chatelaine who is soon demanding foot rubs as well as dusting.

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Yet as the film unfolds, we discover that the relationship between these women – seemingly a haughty lepidopterist, Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen, best known as the Danish prime minister in Borgen), and her submissive maid, Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna) - is altogether more bizarrely perverse, a sadomasochistic folie à deux playing out in a timeless corner of Eastern Europe exclusively populated by women, all of them apparently engaged in the obsessive study of butterflies and moths. (The film’s title, incidentally, is the name of a rare British butterfly).

There are tonal echoes of the moody erotic cinema of 1970s Euro Sleaze auteurs Jess Franco (opens in new tab) and Jean Rollin (opens in new tab) and the twisted dream worlds of David Lynch, and playful touches all Strickland’s own, including a credit for Perfumes by Je Suis Gizelle. But at the film’s heart is a tender love story in which rituals of submission and dominance turn out to have much to say about the shifts and strains in any long-term relationship.

Certificate 18. Runtime 105 mins. Directors Peter Strickland. The Duke of Burgundy is released on DVD & Blu-ray by Artificial Eye.

Extras Director's Commentary Interview with Peter Strickland Stills Gallery Deleted Scenes Cat's Eyes Promo Short Film Conduct Phase Mole Cricket Trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-xIMBnclyA

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.