The Draughtsman's Contract | Chicago Reader

The Draughtsman's Contract

British writer-director Peter Greenaway's 1982 film is entertaining as an avant-garde exercise cleverly adapted to commercial ends. In 17th-century England a landscape artist makes an agreement with the wife of a wealthy landowner to trade his work for her sexual favors. All goes well until mysterious objects begin to clutter the grounds (and the artist's sketches), pointing to a sinister plot. Greenaway's structuralist pedigree is evident in his elaborate visual plan, which puts both artist and audience at the mercy of incomprehensible images. Yet the film's mass appeal is located in its dry and tony pseudo-Restoration dialogue, which skirts the sexual issues with a fashionable callousness. With Anthony Higgins, Janet Suzman, Anne Louise Lambert, and Hugh Fraser. R, 103 min.


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