Movie Review: The Duke of Burgundy is Artistic But is it Good?

Dec 19 2017, 2:03 pm

For those of you who were disappointed in Fifty Shades of Grey, Duke of Burgundy could be a nice substitute for your kinky pleasure although be forewarned it is not for everyone.

The film is a love story between two lesbians Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna). Every day they act out a provocative ritual that ends with Evelyn’s punishment and pleasure.

Duke of Burgundy #1

The film is very stylized with a lot of WTF? It has a 70s softcore porn feel to it that is very unique. The costumes are cool and the storyline is odd but viewers will be curious about the dynamics of the relationship. For instance, Cynthia wants something more conventional while Evelyn seems to enjoy kinky role playing and being a vessel for urine. Yes, you read that correctly.

It’s a BDSM lesbian romance where director Peter Strickland doesn’t show you much in the way of nudity or graphic sex. Instead we get a lot of soft focus intimacy and butterfly sounds. In this way, Duke of Burgundy all a bit puzzling. However, it’s a great example that we don’t need to see boobs and flesh every five minutes to be aroused. Sometimes less is more.

Many critics gave this film a fantastic review so I went into it with high expectations and an open mind. That said, the story is really bizarre and probably a bit too artsy for the average viewer. It’s creative, and it does have you scratching your head wondering what it going on. For instance why are butterflies so important and why do women get together to talk about them?

Duke of Burgundy #2

The story starts to make more sense as the film unravels and moves forward. What we end up seeing is a relationship start to unhinge and the dynamics between the two lesbian lovers change. Forget all the BDSM and the role playing, behind all of that is a simple love story that deals with age, jealousy and our yearning to be connected to someone.

If you are into stylized art house films with some edge, than Duke of Burgundy is for you. If you like a little fluff in your film, than stick with Fifty Shades of Grey. Whatever the case it seems this week has been all about BDSM. Maybe next year we’ll get back to simple rom-coms.

I liked Duke of Burgundy, but I didn’t really love it. Don’t get me wrong, the acting was fantastic, the storyline was unique, and I absolutely appreciated the stylization of it all, but ultimately it wasn’t something I left the theatre going “wow!”

It does have artistic merit and some of you might love it more than I did. I can really only give the film  2.5 out of 5 raindrops. If you are a film student it might be worthwhile checking out. Vancity Theatre has been showing a lot of great documentaries and films and I recommend perusing through their listings.

2.5 Rain Drops


As I mentioned in my Fifty Shades of Grey review, If you like a good sexy and provocative film, check out Secretary. It should be available to rent online. That to me is one of the best films when it comes to BDSM. Here is a list of others according to IMDB.

Duke of Burgundy is playing at the Vancity Theatre until February 19th, 2015.

Vancity Buzz Arts Facebook ad


DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

+ News