The Duke of Burgundy

The Duke of Burgundy ★★★★

I love you. I know I have a different way of showing it. But I love you.

Cinematic explorations of love are always fascinating. Love is an infinitely complex emotion, not understood or expressed through simple words, or even simple actions. It's easy enough to fake for the sake of a movie, and easy enough to suspend disbelief for a couple of hours to sustain your enjoyment as a viewer. For most movies, you just go along with it. However, every once in a while, a film really dives into what love actually looks like, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the tiny little things that are typically ignored. Movies like Richard Linklater's "Before" series, or Celine Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, or even something more abstract like David Lowery's A Ghost Story, all encapsulate not what love looks like, but what it feels like. The Duke of Burgundy is a truly fascinating entry into this genre, utilizing a BDSM relationship not as something to look at with lust but as an exploration of how love functions, showcasing the things we do for the people we love. Peter Strickland's unconventional romance is a slow burn, taking its time to reveal the nature of Cynthia and Evelyn's relationship, how it functions, and how it affects each of them. This slow burn climaxes (no pun intended, I promise) wonderfully into a beautiful and memorable series of scenes that wrap up the film - my only issue is how long it takes to get there. It overstays its welcome a bit on the front end, but the conclusion is worth the wait. True understanding of love is infinitely difficult to express, but this film comes very close in the most interesting way possible.

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