Ding Hui is a member of Purple Butterfly, a powerful resistance group in Japanese occupied Shanghai. An unexpected encounter reunites her with Itami, an ex-lover... and officer with a ...
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Ding Hui is a member of Purple Butterfly, a powerful resistance group in Japanese occupied Shanghai. An unexpected encounter reunites her with Itami, an ex-lover... and officer with a secret police unit tasked with dismantling Purple Butterfly. Written by
There are a few things director Ye Lou likes more than I do: silent, open-mouthed screams, rain and quick dissolves. His movie Purple Butterfly is composed mainly of these things, with glimpses in-between of a story about two lovers caught up in the Japanese occupation of Manchuria during the '30s.
I know what I'm supposed to think of this movie: it's a tone-poem, an evocation of some deeper mood, something running below the surface of the action. But I can't help feeling that the whole exercise would've been more worthwhile had the director demonstrated less ambition and more good old-fashioned story-sense.
There are these two people, one a Chinese woman working for the underground, the other a Japanese fellow toiling for his country's secret-service. We know they're lovers because we see them in bed together, but for at least half the movie, we have no real idea who these people are, what their roles are in the drama that appears to be playing out before us. Now, I'm no dummy, and certainly don't require everything to be spelled-out for me in the dopey terms of most Hollywood movies, but I do appreciate it when the director makes at least a cursory effort at filling me in on the details of the story, like who people are and why I should care about them.
The movie doesn't let you get a food-hold, it's too busy being poetic and rainy and surpassingly glum. This might be all right if the images had some great plastic beauty, but the blue-toned pictures Ye Lou puts in front of us, dissolving from one to the next like he's putting on a museum slide-show of Chinese history, are not exactly the best eye-candy I've seen lately. As an exercise in image and cutting the film is not hall-of-fame material.
The stuff of good cinema is there in Purple Butterfly, but it's buried under too many layers of Cinema.
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