The Duke of Burgundy

Director: Peter Strickland
Year Released: 2014
Rating: 3.0

Colder-than-cool (ice cold!) study of a sadomasochistic relationship between an expert in lepidoptery (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and her 'servant' (Chiara D'Anna) and how their 'romantic' life together consists of repetitive role-playing and punishment. Strickland makes no mystery of his influences - mainly 70's European sexploitation - but at least he's able to temper the campiness and overacting in the genre into an assured if bewildering curio. As an investigation into an alternative form of love (outside of heteronormativity), few films of late come as steadfastly perverse - in this case, a simple act of D'Anna's 'maid' cleaning another woman's boots is the equivalent of cheating (and reprimanded by being trapped in a box, armed with only a safe word to get out) ... and yet D'Anna's interests and concerns are still of utmost concern for her 'master.' It's crystalline and languid: fetishism treated with considerable restraint.