CERIFIED WIERD: Peter Strickland’s “The Duke of Burgundy” a subservient mess

The Duke of Burgundy is Peter Strickland playing around with the form and narrative. It’s a sensual, vitriol battle of subservience and visually disturbed with harsh darkness. However, the film is entirely unengaging on a narrative level. After the dynamic between the two women is established, the mystery is lost and the film relies on the dark avant-garde visual element to carry the story. Strickland has moments of unsettling atmosphere, but it mostly felt underwhelming and lacking substance.

As for the production design, it had a unique charm with the entomology theme and dim lighting. The clean mise-en-scene juxtaposed next to the subservient relationship adds a unique visual style. Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsin) and Chiara D’ Anna (Evelyn) deliver with lustful and nuanced performances. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to save a plot barely making it to the end of the runtime. 

Thankfully, Peter Strickland followed this film up with a much improved effort with In Fabric (2019).

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