Friday, 27 February 2015

The Duke of Burgundy: BDSM in Silk

If you like your erotica on the silky, luxurious side, with a soupcon of cerebral titillation, then allow me the pleasure of turning your head away from the recent, Fifty Shades of Grey, and towards the ultra-feminine kink of The Duke of Burgundy, and its credits to, not only  a Lingerie designer, but a perfume maker. Director, Peter Strickland (Barbarian Sound Studio) shows that he obviously understands that the brain is the biggest sex organ, and has chosen to involve all of our senses: we can't smell the perfume, but we can tailor it to our own specifications; we can't feel the lingerie, but we can imagine what it would be like wear something close to our body and made from the softest materials.

Who is the dominant  and who is the submissive in this amber-toned, distaff fantasy? Is it the mistress Cynthia (Sidsie Babett Knudsen) or her maid, Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna)? At the onset of the film, we see Evelyn riding her bicycle to Cynthia's home to do whatever chores has been assigned to her. If Cynthia is dissatisfied, Evelyn  is verbally abused and/or punished by Cynthia.

The dynamics of their relationship play out inside an aged villa in which time seems to have collapsed into an unknowable decade, set upon land where the trees whisper, brooks burble and the women exchange intellectual discourse about their mutual love of Lepidoptera ( don't  be mislead  by the film's title; the Duke is a butterfly), and negotiate sex and its rewards (a coffin or a human toilet)? The humour in the film is sometimes subtle, petulant, banal, and true to the characters and heir reality.

Combined with Strickland's eye for sound and beauty, Knudsen and D'Anna's chemistry and respective screen presence make this film more than a pretty panty-romp; their talents make us contemplate the shifting balance of power within any relationship that, over time,  will either strengthen it or lead to its demise. 

The  Duke of Burgundy
The Royal
608 College  Street
www.theroyal.to
until March 17,2015

released in Canada by Mongrel Media
 

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