Movie Review: The Duke Of Burgundy is a beautiful love story disguised as stylish smut

With a title that makes it sound like an 18th-century costume drama—perhaps a cousin to Jacques Rivette’s recent Balzac adaptation, The Duchess Of Langeais—and a marketing campaign that sells it as kinky erotica, Peter Strickland’s The Duke Of Burgundy risks attracting exactly the wrong crowd. For one thing, there’s no duke in the movie. Indeed, there are no men at all, as Strickland has created a mysterious alternate universe in which only one gender apparently exists, and reproduction is irrelevant. For another, while the film’s central relationship involves sadomasochism, and its overripe imagery mimics softcore ’70s pictures by the likes of Jess Franco and Radley Metzger, viewers hoping for cheap thrills will come away sorely disappointed. Nobody even gets naked—which is clearly by design. The Duke Of Burgundy employs outré subject matter for a magnificently mundane purpose. At its core, this is one …

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