Continuing a look through the first few months of the year…
3. The Duke of Burgundy
For me, this is the perfect level of surrealism – perched on the edge of an endless dream. Two lovers live out the script of their relationship, day after day, in a world of mid-European bicycle rides, lepidoptery lectures (attended mostly by mannequins), creeping ivy and boutique BDSM saleswomen. But as jealousy and selfishness start to disorder this private paradise, can Eden be salvaged? This is an awesome, floating, crepuscular gasp of a film… and beneath the oddness and idiosyncrasy it has a lot to say about the compromises and disappointments of any relationship. A.
2. It Follows
Another haunting, dreamlike story of punishment and sexual manipulation. But where The Duke of Burgundy is a melancholy romance, It Follows is a ferociously unsettling horror. After a teenage girl makes love to her new boyfriend (who seems nice, but oddly nervous), she is informed – to her horror – that she has now been passed what is effectively an STD: a sexually transmitted demon.
It Follows has some fun with the sexual concerns of teen movies. The only way to rid yourself of the curse of the demon’s slow, methodical pursuit is to have sex with someone else, and pass it on. As such, the standard teen flick landscape of sexual possibility and hope is twisted into one of loaded offers and awkward manipulation.
This story seems to take place somewhere between the early 80s and the near future, with old cathode ray TVs mixed with clamshell Kindles. With everything bathed in a kind of warm glow of all-American summer vacation nostalgia, and a low fuzzy drone on the soundtrack, it’s not long before a hypnotic revere is achieved. As the camera explores long slow takes that creep around empty suburban streets, hallways, coastlines and bedrooms, you feel yourself slipping into a kind of trace. And yet your eyes continue to move over the screen, forever scanning the background for movement, looking out for the steadily approaching demon. Is that it? Is that? A.
…THERE IT IS.