Burgundy is a step up from the already very good Berberian, primarily because Strickland has this time built a similarly beautiful (in its way), surreal, and immersive world around two more compelling characters and a domestic dynamic that is more complex than it at first appears (and at first it appears pretty damn complicated). Chiara D'Anna and Sidse Babett Knudsen are fantastic as the central couple, Evelyn and Cynthia, slowly peeling away more and more layers to reveal fundamental insights into the nature of compromise, love, and restraint in asymmetric relationships.
As impressive as Berberian was in its use of sound, Burgundy is as compelling in its visuals; the simple moment near the beginning where the camera focuses past, then on and between tassels hanging from a tablecloth signals a cinematographic step forward that continues to pay off throughout. As in Berberian, the more "traditional" narrative structure breaks down for an extended, exhilarating sequence of auditory and visual riffing; Strickland makes an appropriate analogy between the narrative structures of his films and a noise rock band throwing an extended section of atonal dissonance into an otherwise standard pop structure in this Dissolve interview. The use of reflection and refraction alone makes Burgundy more of a treat for the eyes than any film I saw last year.
But probably the most powerful scenes are two that feature less stylistic flourishes and more character-driven payoffs:
*Or bug noises...