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Friday 20th
posted by Morning Star in Arts

The Duke Of Burgundy’s more of a turn-on than Fifty Shades of Grey, says MARIA DUARTE

The Duke of Burgundy (18)
Directed by Peter Strickland
4 stars
WITH Fifty Shades of Grey still whipping up frenzy at the box office, The Duke of Burgundy is a more intimate and surreal look at BDSM within a relationship.

It opens with a stern, middle-aged wealthy woman telling off her maid for arriving late and then admonishing her work.

But, as the drama unfolds, it transpires that they are lovers re-enacting the same scenarios over and over again. Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) — an expert in butterflies and moths — is the dominant while Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) is the submissive in their role-playing.

As Cynthia dons numerous wigs and intricate costumes, Evelyn spies on her through the bedroom keyhole.

The twist is that it is the younger Evelyn who is in the driving seat of this sado-masochist relationship. She is the one who has paid for Cynthia’s clothes and who gets turned on by being punished by her.

Set in an indeterminate time somewhere in Europe, in a location seemingly devoid of men, writer-director Peter Strickland delivers a fascinating study of a relationship slowly imploding.

Although it is about two women involved in S&M the issues it deals with could apply to any couple.

As Evelyn becomes more extreme and obsessed in their role play, wanting to spend the night in a locked box, it is Cynthia who tires and yearns for a more normal loving relationship.

It’s a highly stylised and exquisitely shot film but Strickland’s penchant for breaking up the action with images of butterflies is very distracting and contrived.

Knudsen and D’Anna are phenomenal and captivate throughout, with the former particularly impressive as she shows the complexities of Cynthia turning from heartless ice queen to compliant lover to controlled victim.

It’s all truly bizarre, but it deserves to be seen.