Get local news delivered straight to your phone
Support City Paper!
Entirely unexpected at the time of its 1982 release, The Draughtsman’s Contract propelled Peter Greenaway from the experimental underground to the arthouse, where he did quite well before his various mania drove viewers away. The writer-director’s fixations are all on display in this film, set at an English country house in 1694. The tale of an artist who agrees to draw 12 views of an estate in exchange for 12 sexual favors—a most Greenaway-like bargain—the movie is a formalist exercise enlivened by eros, satire, and a murder mystery. Every scene is perfectly composed and framed, and that’s the way the tyrannical artist (possibly a playful directorial self-portrait) demands they remain. When clues to the murder of his benefactor’s husband begin appearing in his drawings, the artist’s principal concern is that they’re disrupting his work. A comeuppance is in order, which invokes another Greenaway motif: the strength of women and the vulnerability of men. The film opens Friday, Sept. 14, at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $9.25. (301) 495-6700; see Showtimes for this week’s times; see afi.com/silver/new/ for a complete schedule.