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.