The Duke of Burgundy

The Duke of Burgundy ★★★★½

Peter Strickland's previous film, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, was a tour-de-force of style whose plot was "Toby Jones goes CRAAAAAAAA-ZY." Now, I don't have a problem myself with films that focus on portraying a subjective experience instead of telling a story, but I understand that people do, and so it's not surprising that THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY has found slightly greater traction, using similar powers of zoom lenses, repetition, abstraction, and Italian film quotation, but here in the service of a seemingly esoteric relationship between two women. (I say seemingly because, as many before me have pointed out, the nature of asymmetric needs in a relationship is universal, even if, say, the desire of one partner to have the other urinate in their mouth is somewhat less universal.)

While it's narrative-driven, it's hardly narrative hidebound, with a lysergic dream/fantasy sequence that felt like an out of body experience, followed by what many have deemed a MOTHLIGHT tribute (although that was a trail of decay, whereas these speciments that flit by us are well-preserved, but anyway). It's also, against all odds, pretty fucking funny at points. But it's also sad. This would make a perfect double feature with CERTIFIED COPY, which employs an entirely different aesthetic in its meditation on the performative necessity in a relationship, and ends on a very similar shot. (But Sidse Babbett Knudsen knocks William Shimell - and every performance I've seen in ages - out of the park. I may go 30 Skandies points.)

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