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|Index||11 reviews in total|
Butterfly is a brave try in the contemporary Hong Kong film industry, which has been highly commercialised. In contrast to most of the HK films, which are targeted at the mass audience, this film is definitely catering to viewers with open minds and willing to accept new story-telling styles. The two interesting features of this film, to me, who grew up with Chinese (including HK & Taiwan) films, are: first, parallel story-telling and second, the integration of political messages into a homosexual love story. Let me go more in-depth into these. In this film, there are two main stories, both happened on Ah-Die (acted by Josie Ho), but at two time segments: she at 30 something, married with a daughter; and she during her teens, in love with her schoolmate. The editing skill enhances the stories a lot, by segmenting each story and mixing them together so that the two stories are developing in a parallel manner. Only towards the ending, the audiences know that how the teen lesbian couple parted 15 years ago; and how, in the present world, the triangle relationship between Ah-Die, Yip (acted by Yuan Tian) and Ah-Die's husband was resolved. It is not easy not to confuse the audiences when telling two stories in this way, but the director had done a good job. Excellent! The second interesting feature of this film is that it was able to blend two sensitive issues (at least sensitive in the Chinese world)in one film: politics and homosexuality. In the story of teen Ah-Die 15 years ago, her girlfriend was actively involved in political activities. Though it was not said directly by the main actors, the film had sent the pro-democratic messages by touching on the Tiananmen incidence took place in 1989 in Beijing. A girl said to the public: 'I am not really interested in politics, but I can't deny that we all live in it...'; an old woman also said during a protest that 'we are all humans and we all need freedom and basic rights...'. Though these all happened about 15 years ago, as described in the film, the political messages of freedom and human rights are still valid in contemporary China. Or I dare say the director MEANS to say something about current political status in China. Therefore Butterfly (Wu Die) may not be the greatest art film in 2004 in China, nonetheless, it is the most daring one, which deserves the dedication of audiences' time to appreciate it.
The second feature from Hong Kong independent director Yan Yan Mak has
been one of the most talked about films of 2004. A small-scale film
that sits on the border of independent and commercial film-making,
Butterfly premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2004 as the Opening
Film for the International Critics' Week. It has since been invited to
many film festivals around the world, including Stockholm, Pusan,
Tokyo, Bangkok, India, Brazil and Australia. It also received two
nominations at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards in 2004: Best Screenplay
Adaptation for Mak and Best New Performer for Tian Yuan.
Butterfly is adapted from Taiwanese author Chen Hsueh's short story "The Mark of the Butterfly". Starring Josie Ho, Eric Kot, Tian Yuan, Isabel Chan and Joman Chaing, it is about a woman's struggle to come to terms with her true self, the importance to break out from her cocoon and set herself free.
Like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, Flavia finds her lesbian passion reawakened after a chance encounter with a carefree and spirited singer / songwriter. A shattering new film form award-winning director Yan Yan Mak (Gege, 2001), Butterfly alternates between the past and the present, juxtaposing a romance to a rebellious human rights activist in 1989 with her current struggles as a wife and mother. Fronted by a brave and sympathetic...
Not the first lesbian flick i've watched, but so far the best i've ever
watched. I wish so much i could watch the deleted scenes. unfortunately
Its not sold at my place.
I've made few good wallpapers dedicated to both the stars of Tian Yuan and Josie Ho of the movie.
please comment or let me know what you feel about them.
The sexual scenes of the movie is just so heated up, yet it doesn't expose any of nu-dial parts of the stars, which makes the director just awesome. i love the ti-an yuan's character and also her beauty. bearing the look of an innocent cute girl, yet making her flirtatious and seductive role so prominent. supplementary to that, her beauty just makes her ever so attractive. I was shocked that Josie Ho was not nominated for best actress for this movie. she did a great job in portraying a confused, controlled, tiring and quiet character. yet be sexy when she seduces her girlfriend while in bed. awesome!
Although the plot is centered on the story of a married female teacher who struggles to come to terms with her sexuality, I believe the message of butterfly goes beyond this description. All the main characters in one way or another portray how we as individuals come to terms or deny or most inner self. I found particularly interesting the parallel between the person as an individual and the person as a social subject, and how the interaction between the two can be a conflictive one, specially if the traits that mark the self are not socially accepted or naturalized. In all, a beautiful moving film of contemporary struggle for self and social acceptance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yan Yan Mak's romantic Lesbian drama "Butterfly" may not be your
standard or conventional love story but it is just as heartfelt,
touching and sensual as any standard male-female Hollywood drama.
The story revolves around the May-December romance between a married 30 year old school teacher, Flavia Wu (Josie Ho) and the free-spirited, 23 year old singer Yip (played by real life singer Tian Yuan of the HK indie group Hopscotch). Both woman have had rough relationships in the past - Flavia is still nursing a particularly bad breakup with a fellow high school classmate and social activist, Jin (who has since become a female Monk in Macau). Similarly, Yip has also gone through her share of failed romances, many of which ended with her lovers taking advantage of her (betraying her trust and stealing her money).
While Flavia retreated to the life of an unassuming teacher at a local all-girl's high school and marrying/having a daughter with a man; Yip is happy just singing and living off of tips from her performances at a local tavern/club. Flavia is instantly drawn to Yip's carefree attitude and optimistic outlook on life which remind her so much of Jin. While nervous and scared of the consequences, she soon find herself in a steamy and torrid affair with the young singer. Their romance invigorates Flavia and brings her back in touch with the adventurous and passionate side of her that she thought she had lost. Their happiness is soon challenged when they are discovered by Flavia's husband Ming (Eric Kot) who refuses to divorce Flavia and forces her to choose between living happily with Yip or giving up custody of their daughter Ting-Ting.
Yan Yan Mak's artful direction and style are reminiscent of MTV music video and have a very youthful and indie charm. "Butterfly" shifts frequently from past to present and seems to tell two stories (the story of Flavia and Jin's high school/college romance and Flavia's present day romance with Yip) but surprisingly Mak is able to integrate the two stories seamlessly and both stories help to move the story along in an interesting way.
The beautiful Josie Ho (Naked Ambition, Exile) is great as the prim and proper Flavia who rediscovers her youth through her younger lover. It is a testament to Ho's talent that she doesn't play her role of Flavia in a stereotypical or contrived fashion and really plays her character in a controlled and calculated way that focuses on her conflicted emotions and the hard decisions she has to make. Tian Yuan is also very good as the happy-go-lucky Yip. She has a magnetic charm about her that is infectious. Tian Yuan and her group Hopscotch provide most of the soundtrack for this film and her singing is absolutely wonderful (she reminds me a lot of UK singer Corinne Bailey Rae).
Special note should also go to the young actresses who portray the flashback versions of Flavia and Yip (Isabel Chan and Joman Chiang). They help carry half of the film and their romance is very sensual and poignant. You want to see them succeed but can't help but feel hurt when they don't. Like so many tragic movie romances, fate always seems to deal a cold and cruel hand.
In some ways "Butterfly" is like a Lesbian version of Kevin Rodney Sullivan's adaptation of Terry McMillan's brilliant novel "How Stella Got Her Grove Back". As in that film, the theme of regaining one's youth and passion are clearly evident in "Butterfly". The tag-line for "Stella..." - Sometimes you have to break the rules to free your heart - seems to be just as applicable here, although in a much different way.
Those expecting something along the lines of Otto Chan's 1991 CAT III Lesbian exploitation film "Pink Lady" (which also revolved around a taboo relationship between two women) may be disappointed that this film isn't as erotic or titillating but Mak is trying to tell a different story and her approach is just as successful and sensual.
I was really surprised at how much I liked this film and I look forward to seeing more of Mak's work in the future. She is definitely one to watch!
It'll be a little difficult to express my every opinion on Butterfly.
First of all, the youthful love and passion between Jin & Flavia is portrayed more than well; although I thought (young) Flavia isn't much of a character compared to (young) Jin. Jin on the other hand is interesting and deeper, although she too is a commonly seen character in life or in movies: the smart and angry high school girl. But it's not a cliché, it's reality. She has deep ideas about life, about the question of life and that's a fact. Most people do that, especially at that age. I really could relate to the scenes involving those two, cos I was there too, kind of.. Being that young and in love was very similar in my situation. I think this is actually important in a movie, cos empathy is one thing some movies are designed to give you, but most (of those who claim they can) usually can't be so close to life. This is something I like about Asian movies, I'm not a big fan of the slow story lines but I appreciate their sense of reality.
About the story.. I believe it could've been told better. At times I felt like I was stuck in a movie that just won't go further. But this is independent cinema right? I can't and don't want to look for a Hollywood-type narrative. But I wish I could say it had a unique or at least not (mostly) boring way of narrative. But I can't, it's just too slow at times. I actually thought right before the end that it probably had been almost 3 hours since it started. The story wasn't new blood either, but it was good anyway. I don't need to discuss that.
The acting was generally good enough. Stephanie Che was brilliant. The woman who played Rosa was the only one I thought wasn't as good as the rest. But I'm not a critic, I'm a supporter. Just commenting.. I believe people can/should do whatever they like no matter how discouraged they are by others. I think it was the late reactions she gave in her lines, I don't know.
I gave the movie 5 out of 10, I could've given 6 though, considering it was in Chinese (subtitles are still obstacles against full comprehension) and for the sake of the scenes involving Jin & Flavia's love. Finally, it's nice and important to see homosexual visibility and issues in movies, that is really appreciated. This is pretty much what I think of Butterfly.
ps: I forgot to mention another thing about the movie: the kissing scenes between women. my god were they awful.. they were too conservative or just dull.
A very sweet film about sexual awakening. Many have commented that the romance blossoms too quickly, which for me completely misses the point. The reason the attractive builds into romance so fast is due to the feelings of nostalgia it raises in Flavia. One of the most honest and beautiful subjects of this film is to see selfish lust drift into actual love. For Flavia, love is at first an escape. It reminds her of when she felt young and wanted. For Yip, it's a chance to be with an older woman that will support her during the building of her music career. As the events unfold it doesn't leave the world unaffected. Flavia's marriage begins to crumble, and her husband is portrayed as sweet, but too reliant on her. We get a feeling that Flavia has been forced into this life against her will. The past is sent against a political backdrop that raises tensions. I watched this on Blu-Ray which just emphasized the stunning photography. A real quiet gem of a film, which hides enough of the relationship to make it an ambiguous study open for interpretation.
I think this is a nice movie...A great one...This is the first homosexual HongKong movie I watched... A harmony homosexual movie, there isn't any visible nudity involved... The scenes will be mainly kissing scenes of actresses... I think that their kissing were great, when they were kissing, they don't give me the feeling that they were acting, I think that there is nothing to be criticized, without knowing the real characters of the 2 actresses, I would definitely think that they are the real couple in life...After I watch this movie, Tian Yuan really deserves the New Actress Award, she is a great actress in this movie... Passion, is what I can conclude from this movie. I would definitely recommend it to my friends...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A well crafted movie using various filtering, angles and editing
methods to carry messages. The pacing is definitely not commercial and
that is a strong feature in it this movie's favour. It wants you to
think and it allows you the space to do it.
The message of having to suppress but finally come to terms with one's inner self is explored from various angles in the character Flavia and also in her friend Jin. However, using the parallel vehicles of homosexuality and politics to do it is old hat and unoriginal. Some have suggested that in Hong Kong that comes across as daring but I don't buy that for a second in 2004-5. For me, the film gets away with it by the way it weaves them together with the various subplots, along with the different time tracks. This succeeds in making the themes come across as more original than they are.
The film needed to be longer. The dual time tracks and the subplots create a need for about 5 more carefully chosen minutes to fill them out in a more satisfying and well rounded way.
+++ minor spoilers below +++ I also don't agree that Flavia has a "bad" marriage unless one is going to claim that a very large proportion of Hong Kong marriages are bad. She could have been doing far, far worse! But ultimately for Flavia, it just wasn't really something that could make her deeply happy and satisfied.
Some of the kissing and lovemaking was not realistic at all (there must have been some heavy discussions among the actresses and the director around that, those discussions would make for a great out-take) but the passion nonetheless believable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"butterfly" (wu die) didn't disappoint me even though it's a low budget movie directed by a new indie director what i love most about the movie is that it didn't question the 2 character's sexual orientation in any way, making lesbianism as something normal (instead of "abnormal" as many other Asian films have portrayed it to be) but then i think this movie would be better if it's shorter (it's 2 hours long) and if the characters weren't clothed during some love scenes (cause it appears artificial to me), and the kissing scenes by the 2 young actresses weren't quite convincing i also agreed that the 2 lesbian students subplot were detracting from the main plot..it just annoys me really overall, i think the best thing about this movie is that it got a positive ending that signifies the slow but positive gay movement in Asia and in Hong Kong (where this movie was shot)
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