“The Duke of Burgundy” is a darkly decadent melodrama dripping with eroticism and dread.
Day after day, Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) act out a simple yet provocative ritual that ends with Evelyn’s punishment and pleasure.
Cynthia is around 10 years older than Evelyn. Her cold and unscrupulous conduct belies her elegance, yet Evelyn tolerates the ill treatment. Cynthia subjects Evelyn to increasingly humiliating treatment. The tasks she has to perform become increasingly intimate, bordering on degrading, only she never protests.
Eventually, it becomes apparent that the two women are engaged in a ritual of role-play involving dominance and subservience.
As Cynthia yearns for a more conventional relationship, Evelyn’s obsession with erotic spells quickly becomes an addiction that may push the relationship to a breaking point.
From Peter Strickland, the award-winning writer and director of Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga.