Of the latest films out now, and exciting film releases this month, comes The Duke of Burgundy: Peter Strickland directs.
Those on the hunt for sexually-charged cinema that’s a little more thought-provoking should look out for Duke of Burgundy – this month in London cinemas (listings below) – the latest weird and wonderful offering from the left-field director behind Berberian Sound Studio (2012) Peter Strickland. A darkly comic and strangely moving story starring Sidse Babett Knudsen (known for her appearances in Danish-drama Borgen) and Chiara D’Anna (Berberian Sound Studio), the film has been garnering rave reviews from around the festival circuit and we can certainly see why.
The film centres on one couple, Cynthia and Evelyn, who appear to exist in a female-only world, a world in which the study of butterflies and moths is the main – and perhaps the only – academic pursuit, and in which unusual sexual practices are commonplace. Fitting this model perfectly is Cynthia (played by Knudsen) who, with a penchant for thigh-high leather boots and elaborate corsets, seems to divide her time between living her role as professor in the study of butterflies and as mistress and domineer over her other half, Evelyn (D’Anna). With its series of S&M-style role-play scenarios, it would be easy to be led into the belief that this is another film that indulges male directors’ erotic lesbian fantasies (as much as we loved Blue Is the Warmest Colour, we couldn’t help feeling that there was a pinch of this in the 'sexiest' scenes), yet Cynthia and Evelyn’s life together is not as it seems, and as their story begins to unravel, a portrait of a struggling relationship consumed by unusual sexual tastes, and reaching a crisis point, begins to emerge.
Beautifully shot by Berberian Sound Studio cinematographer Nicolas D Knowland this is a film that, although set in a world devoid of technology and with a deep focus on our natural surroundings, is as much a modern-day tale as any other, highlighting how easily divergences in sexual appetites can impinge on meaningful relationships. People have been critical of the film's hyper-sexuality but in a world where nudity and sex feature in nearly every bankable film and music video, Duke Of Burgundy feels refreshing in its sexually-charged suggestion rather than demonstration: with no actual nakedness or sexual activity on show, the film takes its thrills from implication. It’s neither thriller nor action-packed drama, but a highly stylised and thoughtful exploration that’s sure to keep you thinking long after the credits roll.
The Duke of Burgundy movie UK release date: 20th February. London cinema listings, The Duke of Burgundy, to follow.
A screening at the Curzon Soho will be followed by a Q&A with director Peter Strickland on the 20th February at 6.30pm.
|What||The Duke of Burgundy|
|Where||Curzon Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5DY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Tottenham Court Road (underground)|
On 20 Feb 15, 6:10 PM – 12:00 AM
20 Feb 15 – 01 May 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to go to the Curzon website to book.|