Calvin Kemph 🤠’s review published on Letterboxd:
Friend Rec Festival 2022 / Stephen
A domestic drama inhabited by women and insects only, The Duke of Burgundy is a precise statement on power plays in relationships. The whole crafted world of lingering late autumn regret, tension as tightly wound as the plucked strings of the harpsichord, the tool of exact texture for the movie.
Here, Cat’s Eyes provide the score, which resonates between orchestral and art pop rock of a 1970s feeling — especially drawn out of Italian films — like a giallo where black gloved murder is replaced by black latex sadomasochism.
Burgundy plays sex, not as a diversion, but as a primary thing people can do to exhibit and release power in a relationship. It’s most brilliant shots, and it has dozens that are resolutely brilliant, are about that hot and cold exchange of power, sometimes heated, sometimes cooling off because you cannot always be hot to trot, you cannot always be surprising, eventually you’re just you, and the other person is just them, and there you are.
The audiovisual style exudes such easy confidence for Strickland — who after seeing a few movies — is so evidently a master of control. He is even a trustworthy arbiter of this same sex relationship between women. He lets the women and their bodies talk to each other and just frames it all like it’s textured of the earth, and these are just two of his insects he has also shot, engaged in a magnanimous power play, where there must be submission and domination, because that is the nature of these people.
Strickland puts on a clinic here, in how to go about making a sex film that primarily means something and is not just about the pleasure of watching it’s intimacies. Yes, the intimacy is also engaging and a good reason to watch the film. Come for the intimacy, stay for the masterwork of audiovisual composition.
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