[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Duke of Burgundy

Kinky, sexy, emotional relationship between two women

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

December 1, 2015 -- I thought this was going to be one of those movies about kinky lesbian sex, like “Blue is the Warmest Color,” but it turns out to be less about explicit sex and more about a complex relationship involving sex, bondage, sadomasochism and love.

The movie starts out with a scene involving a maid being criticized and punished by a wealthy woman who owns a large, very fancy house loaded with moth specimens, among other things. It turns out that the relationship between these two women is not what it seems. The owner of the house, Cynthia (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen of “Almost Perfect”) seems to be dominant, but then it turns out she is really being manipulated by the “maid,” Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna) who is her mistress.

It turns out that Cynthia is just playing a role in a kind of play written by Evelyn. They have a variety of scenes of dominance and bondage that they go through over and over. Evelyn likes to be “owned” by Cynthia, likes to be tied up, locked in a box, subjected to “golden showers” (salirophilia) and other punishments. Evelyn says that all she ever wanted was to be owned by a woman.

Cynthia is an expert on moths and other insects, and gives lectures to a local group. She has an enormous collection of moths in her house, and spends a lot of time at a local library studying. Moths being drawn to light is a metaphor used throughout the film to illustrate Cynthia's attraction to Evelyn.

In one scene, Cynthia and Evelyn talk to a purveyor of sex toys about buying a special bed in which Evelyn will be able to sleep in a closed compartment beneath Cynthia. They also talk about buying a “human toilet.” I don't even want to know what that is. Fortunately, the film handles most of these sexual subjects fairly tastefully (as much as this can be reasonably accomplished).

As the story moves on, it becomes apparent that these two women love each other, but Cynthia doesn't want to play the role of the dominatrix any more. She doesn't enjoy administering bondage discipline, even though Evelyn likes it. Instead, she wants to be kind to Evelyn. A crisis arises when Evelyn betrays Cynthia and the two women finally have to confront their relationship issues.

This is a very well acted movie with an interesting plot. The relationship between Cynthia and Evelyn is very complicated and interesting, but not terribly compelling for those, like me, not in tune with these particular sexual fantasies. I really couldn't identify with Evelyn's character since her motivations are hard for me to relate to. Cynthia is more accessible, since her motivations seem to be more normal. The overall tone of the film is dark, with muted colors, and the setting is somewhat alien, some time in the last century in Eastern Europe (shot in Sikáros, Budapest and Sopron, Hungary). This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)