Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Grand Duke

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One of my favorite things about The Duke of Burgundy (and I have many favorite things about The Duke of Burgundy) is the fact that it is to erotica what The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is to slashers - like the mostly bloodless latter, Burgundy contains absolutely no nudity and absolutely no swearing. If the MPAA weren't a hypocritical gang of religious charlatans this thing could be Rated PG, maybe with a slight warning about entirely obscured cunnilingus. (I'd love to see that on a movie poster.) That's just one of the dozens of sly notes that director Peter Strickland plays in this lush and strange hot-house picture. 

Two women - in a world entirely populated by women, moths, and mannequins, not always in that order - trapped inside a microscope-slide of their own making, endlessly reenacting the same fantasy over and over again with varying results like scientists watching drops of water run differently down wrists. Chaos theory made sexy! 

But oh, how funny this movie is too - the year is young and I already wonder if a more indelible image will present itself than the sight of the older woman Cynthia - oh poor put-upon cougar-prop Cynthia! - pulling her comfy cotton pajama pants over her fetish-wear and dully stomping back and forth across the floor-boards while her girlfriend writhes in a box. I guess you've gotta be there. But The Duke of Burgundy unravels sex itself, with all its weird and messy and private neuroses, into something unexpected and strange and shockingly honest - it makes sex into love again. Love, and pain, and sacrifice. That is, love.
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