The Blog

The Duke of Burgundy - The Review

Released within a few weeks of that other S and M bonanza,, this is light years ahead of the slick competition... The best film of the first quarter of 2015.

The Duke of Burgundy is quite unlike any film I have seen.

Inspired by the works of Jess Franco and assorted other European filmmakers, director Peter Strickland, the brains behind Berberian Sound Studio, has created arguably the best film of the year.

Released within a few weeks of that other S and M bonanza, 50 Shades of Grey, this is light years ahead of the slick competition.

The relationship between the two central protagonists, Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen) as Cynthia and Chiara D'Anna (Berberian Sound Studio) as Evelyn, is both compelling, disturbing, and often hilarious; shifting power plays where you are never quite sure who has the upper hand.

Strickland has created a multi-layered comedy drama with so many textures you can almost touch them.

The following might sound like it's taken from The Big Book of Superlatives, but The Duke of Burgundy is one of those movies that lives up to the hype.

The sound track by Cat's Eyes is utterly absorbing; the cinematography by Nic Knowland is lush, and the editing by Mátyás Fekete is superbly executed.

The performances superb, while intentionally integrating a note of amateurism. Yes, that sounds derogatory, but when professional actresses intentionally fake amateurism as a homage to its source movies - dodgy euro flicks from the 1970s - film fans can't help but mentally applaud.

As a lover of intelligent cinema, anyone who adores transcendental cinematic journeys should bask in its glow, their hearts fluttering like wings at the core of the spectacle.

There's a scene in the third act that was reminiscent of Dave Bowman's trip through the stargate at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey... only this portal is between... well, I'll leave that for you to discover.

For me, great movies are those you can't get out of your head for days and weeks. Strickland has achieved that goal, and I am delighted.

The fact the closing credits even feature the integral moths at the heart of the drama, along with dates, times and temperatures at which photos were taken is an added bonus.

Just when you thought you had seen every credit under the sun, The Duke of Burgundy proves there are plenty of new ideas out there.

Yes, you can rent it on line, or wait until it is released on DVD and Blu-ray in April, but I'd recommend tracking it down at your nearest art house cinema.

The atmosphere of this extraordinary production is one that cannot be recreated on the home cinemas, no matter how good your sound system is.

The best film of the first quarter of 2015.

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