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Monday, January 12, 2015

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY


By D.E.Levine

Two lesbian entomologists live in a beautiful villa surrounded by gorgeous gardens.  The viewer is never told exactly where the villa is located but it seems to be some.  They like to play mistress and servant.

The two women enact submission and domination on a daily basis.   Evidently, the thrill has gone out of the relationship and they are searching for some new and interesting sadomasochistic

The younger and apparently shyer of the two, Evelyn, (Chiara D'Anna), plays the part of a beautiful maid.  Although she appears to be the submissive one she actually plans elaborate scenarios and leaves precise directions on handwritten.  The tasks, the dialogues and the punishments are all part of an elaborate sex game dictated by Evelyn.

The mistress of the house, Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) inflicts kinky humiliating punishments for any and all transgressions and apparently the younger woman can do nothing right.  Although punishments are meted out commensurate with the transgression, Evelyn always winds up locked away in an old wooden trunk.  With explicit directions about when to "surprise" her, and a safe word to stop the proceedings, if necessary the two women attempt to put a spark back into their relationship.

The women attend each other's scientific lectures at the local entomological institute to which they are both in some way connected.  When Cynthis throws Evelyn out and starts dressing in comfortable pajamas instead of laced corsets and wigs, Evelyn starts looking for a new playmate for her game.

Shot in Hungary, the cinematography is wonderful and the scenery is incredibly beautiful, but the world seems unreal and perhaps even from a different historical era.  The characters reveal an emotional dependence but it is, as well as the film as a whole, is laced with humor.

Even the closing credits list all the common and Latin names for all the featured insects.  There are many cases and displays of these insects featured in the film.  In addition to visual effects, sound is very important and contains a mixture of music by Cat's Eye, the sound of insects and source noise.

Director Peter Strickland provides a film rich in feeling and texture, although intense physical scenes do not appear onscreen.