Hong Kong 2004
Directed by Yan Yan Mak.

Flavia (Josie Ho) is a schoolteacher at an all-girls school, married to the nice and low key Mark (Eric Kot), and has a one-year old daughter. The only trouble is, she is gay, and once she meets the free spirited but loyal Yip (Tian Yuan) at a supermarket one day, she suddenly realizes that suppressing those tendancies like she has for years has not changed anything. Carefully, tentatively, she tries to open up again to love with another woman, all the while remembering her first true love, the results of which have scarred her even to this day. But really, isn't being married to Eric Kot alone enough to turn anyone gay?

Honestly, though, I was deeply sympathetic to Eric Kot's character, who was really just a pretty decent guy. So Flavia's vacant stare when they soullessly humped was a bit depressing. But on the other hand, when the romance is between women, BUTTERFLY becomes a deeply romantic and erotic movie, more than any other Hong Kong movie I've seen in 2004. A romance with passion is a rare beast and I simply have to embrace it here, no matter its form.

Parallel to the story of Flavia as an adult is her story as a student. In the student scenes Flavia is played by Isabel Chan. She meets a rebellious and politically active girl named Jin (Joman Chiang) and they move in together. The way this story of her youth intercuts with her story as an adult is what changes BUTTERFLY from a good movie to a great one. The narrative is mostly sequential, but sometimes the scenes are simply short clips, little vignettes of her life then that intrude on her life today. Her girlfriend Jin takes up Super 8 filmmaking, this aspect of their story intrudes on the narrative at points by changing Flavia's POV into rough, 8mm footage.

There are few negatives to the film, one is its length, which at over two hours, is a bit too long. The second is the somewhat annoying cafe singing (in English) we have to endure when Yip secures a steady job there. But these are minor complaints in a film which powerfully demonstrates how a life lived to please other people, and not yourself, is no life at all.

Rating: Highly Recommended (Highly Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on March 09, 2005.


just a simple.."I agree".

Posted by: Mak at June 22, 2007 12:34 PM
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