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M. Butterfly (1993)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  1 October 1993 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 5,659 users   Metascore: 43/100
Reviews: 38 user | 26 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

In 1960s China, French diplomat Rene Gallimard falls in love with an opera singer, Song Liling - but Song is not at all who Gallimard thinks.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Annabel Leventon ...
Shizuko Hoshi ...
Richard McMillan ...
Embassy Colleague
...
David Hemblen ...
Intelligence Officer #1
Damir Andrei ...
Intelligence Officer #2
Antony Parr ...
Intelligence Officer #3
Margaret Ma ...
Song's Maid
Tristram Jellinek ...
Defense Attorney
Philip McGough ...
Prosecution Attorney
David Neal ...
Judge
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Storyline

During the Cultural Revolution in China in the mid-1960s, a French diplomat falls in love with a singer in the Beijing Opera. Interwoven with allusions to the Puccini opera "Madama Butterfly", a story of love and betrayal unfolds. Written by Michael C. Berch <mcb@postmodern.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

china | opera | spy | betrayal | 1960s | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and a brief bloody sequence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 October 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

M. Baterflaj  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,499,795 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Weir passed on the chance to direct. See more »

Goofs

The word accordion is misspelled "accordian" in the closing credits. See more »

Quotes

Drunk in Paris bar: [Hearing pro-Communist students parading outside] God damn it! Must be those fucking students again! Talk about China? I'll be you if go out that door you'll think you're back in Beijing! Every damn leftist student in Paris has Mao's little red book in his hand, and a red firecracker up his ass!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Directors: The Films of David Cronenberg (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wasted potential
26 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Even directors as acclaimed as David Cronenberg have to have some duds in their filmography. Enter M. Butterfly, the odd and empty story of a French civil servant agent who falls in love with an opera singer while working in Beijing. It is set during the cultural revolution of 1960's China as tensions rise due to uncontrollable issues. But the real problems stem from the relationship between Rene Gallimard and his lover, Song Liling, which takes an unforeseen turn when you least expect it.

This is just one of those films that is flat, dull, unconvincing, and just downright bland. So little happens for the first half of the film and what does happen is an uninteresting and unengaging romance that unfolds at an awkward pace with no real emotion or motivation behind it. This is a story that demands a lot of passion and emotion behind it in order to be truly compelling. The film falls flat here and never managed to keep my interest. The story here isn't terrible. It is based on a true story and that always adds a different element of intrigue, but the execution of this story is very poor. It could have been incredible, but I simply found nothing interesting here, at least for the first half.

After a while I asked myself just why Cronenberg directed a sappy foreign country romance like this. Then a very specific and completely unexpected element was introduced and I quickly found myself saying, "Aha. That's why Cronenberg directed this." The conclusion of this film is sudden and unfolds too quickly to have any real emotional force behind it. By this point in the film my interest in these characters and events had flat lined so I was only appalled and irritated by the direction this film had gone. There isn't a much easier way to put it other than it is simply not good and not fun.

It was quite the disappointment to see a lot of potential go to waste. I started out disliking this film and by the end I didn't like it any more than I had before, but I wanted it to be so much better and I longed for it to be more emotionally engaging in order to achieve the full affect which this story has the potential to do. But it just simply fell flat. It is evident that Cronenberg put some effort into this film but just missed the mark and managed to produce a dull and painfully uninteresting story out of something that could have been extremely intriguing. M. Butterfly is something different, but not really worth the watch.


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