Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Some thoughts on The Duke of Burgundy

The Duke of Burgundy
Peter Strickland is bound up in our minds with Borderlines, as it is where we saw his audacious debut film, Katalin Varga. With this director, and The Duke of Burgundy is no exception, the attention to detail in all aspects - cinematography, sound design, soundtrack, editing  - is all important. This, his third film, looks and sounds sumptuous. Set in an unnamed but clearly European country, the film could also from my point of view (Simon) have been set at any point in the last, perhaps, 60 years, but I (Claire) feel that the clothes and make up suggest the 1950s or 60s - there is electricity but you see no vehicles, only bicycles, no telephone, let alone a hint of a computer.

The film centres on two women in an S&M  relationship. Although given an 18 certificate, and one discovers a fair bit about S&M, the film is at no point titillating or pornographic, with some of what those of us who might not share an S&M persuasion regard as more extreme aspects taking place off screen. In fact, the relationship is dealt with fairly gently, and with a good deal of humour!

There is a great deal of ebb and flow to the relationship. The film deals very well with the complexity that exists in any relationship between two people - with always much more under the surface than outsiders could imagine - what at times seems balanced, at other points is clearly less so. Perhaps in the end, the S&M is a metaphor for the give and take necessary for any couple.

This is surely Strickland’s most rounded film, and we cannot wait to see where his imagination and talent take him next.

Claire and Simon Scott

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