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Black Butterflies (2011)

tomatometer

71

Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.

audience

62

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 854

My Rating

Movie Info

Poetry, politics, madness, and desire collide in the true story of the woman hailed as South Africa's Sylvia Plath. In 1960s Cape Town, as Apartheid steals the expressive rights of blacks and whites alike, young Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten) finds her freedom scrawling verse while frittering through a series of stormy affairs. Amid escalating quarrels with her lovers and her rigid father, a parliament censorship minister (Rutger Hauer), the poet witnesses an unconscionable event that will

Unrated,

Drama

Greg Latter

Jul 17, 2012

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All Critics (13) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (8) | Rotten (3)

Van Houten ... gives a strong performance as Jonker, and the cinematography is pleasing, but the script is cliché-ridden and ends on an overly sentimental note.

March 2, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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The movie reminds you of the extent to which poetry has been marginalized as a cultural force since the early 1960s.

March 1, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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Black Butterflies is a dark, moving depiction of the life and death of a brave rebellious, idiosyncratic woman who made significant strides toward changing the world around her and paid a heavy toll for her passion.

February 29, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
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Always feels like a life schematically condensed rather than intimately explored.

February 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Art, politics, and craziness conspire to form a rather mechanical melodrama in Black Butterflies...

February 28, 2012 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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Paula van der Oest's biopic of South African poet Ingrid Jonker is conventional yet captivating thanks in large part to a terrific lead performance from Carice van Houten.

June 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Black Butterflies scarcely tries to illuminate the substance of Jonker's writing.

March 1, 2012 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

Black Butterflies is the sad human poetry of the lost souls who slip beneath the waves to echo in our collective consciousness.

May 4, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Press
New York Press

The screenplay defiantly never softens [Ingrid] Jonker, but challenges the audience to take her or leave her.

May 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

As far as middlebrow biopics go, it may not break any molds, but it's a reasonably sensitive and occasionally insightful look into the mind and psyche of an impassioned and deeply troubled artist.

April 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Black Butterflies

Nice movie, albeit very slow, and depressing.
March 19, 2013
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

In 1960 South Africa, Jack Cope(Liam Cunningham) saves Ingrid Jonker(Carice van Houten) from drowning. They bond over the fact that they are both writers; his prose and her poetry. In short time, they fall in love as she moves into his house. But since somebody forgot to get their divorce finalized, marriage is off the table. Which might be for the best as Jack suspects Ingrid of being interested in anything in pants.

"Black Butterflies" has all the elements of a good movie like history, literature, excellent cinematography, lots of period detail and Liam Cunningham who can simply do no wrong. What it does not have is any idea where to start, eventually getting to its point. In fact the movie should have spent more time in Ingrid's childhood, which is what formed who she would become, for better and worse, instead of reductively going for daddy issues.(Well, daddy(Rutger Hauer) was a government censor...)

While Carice van Houten has a go for broke attitude, she does not have an equal level of talent that would allow her to breathe life into such a complicated person. In being a movie about an unconventionial and mentally unstable woman, the movie takes the most conventional approach possible by focusing on the relationship between Jack and Ingrid. In any case, these people's melodramatic issues cannot compare to those suffering under the heel of Apartheid at the same time.
August 1, 2013
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

    1. Ingrid Jonker: Don't you want to know who I am?
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • Ingrid Jonker (FR)
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