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M. Butterfly (1993)

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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 4

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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 5,237

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Movie Info

David Cronenberg's cinematic intensity eviscerates this adaptation of David Henry Hwang's passionate stage production. Based on a true incident involving a French diplomat who carried on an affair for 18 years with a man the diplomat thought was a woman, M. Butterfly begins in 1964 Beijing when French foreign service employee Rene Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) becomes smitten with Chinese opera performer Song Liling (John Lone). Before long, Gallimard is enamored with Song, and they begin an inflamed

May 18, 2006

Warner Home Video

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September 29, 2005:
Critical Consensus: "Blue" Sinks, "Violence" Kills, "Serenity" Soars
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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (8) | Rotten (11) | DVD (1)

When John Lone parades around in mascara and speaks in an asexual monotone, the film audience discovers itself staring at John Lone's whiskers underneath his makeup

May 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

One of Cronenberg's most problematic and most disappointing films, largely due to the source material.

July 2, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Cronenberg no longer needs slimy parasites or exploding heads; the human heart's ability to fool itself is frightening and bizarre enough.

April 9, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

There's a lot to chew on in this incredible love story turned into a grisly horror story.

March 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A rare mis-step for director Cronenberg, neutering a challenging play with a bizarrely conservative filming approach.

January 5, 2004
Nick's Flick Picks

Downright peculiar film from Cronenberg. Far from his best, but better than its reputation.

August 27, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

M. Butterfly is Cronenberg's least-known and most underrated work, far superior to his great cult hit, Scanners.

April 19, 2003 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Imperfect, interesting.

March 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Cronenberg and Hwang seem to have conspired to dull the material at every turn.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for M. Butterfly

In "M Butterfly," Rene Gallimard(Jeremy Irons) is a minor official at the French embassy in Beijing in 1964. As such, he is tired of the tedious events on the social circuit, until he watches a performance of "Madama Butterfly" for the first time and is smitten with Song Liling(John Lone), the lead performer. This infatuation leads him to seek a performance of Chinese opera along with a passionate affair between the two, unbeknowst to Rene's wife Jeanne(Barbara Sukowa). At the same time, he comes to the attention of Ambassador Toulon(Ian Richardson) and is promoted to vice consul.

"M Butterfly" is an underrated, very evocative and well-acted movie that touches on David Cronenberg's recurring theme of forbidden love(So, maybe he is a big softie at heart...) while also much more political than his other movies.(David Henry Hwang adapts his own play.) Subtly, the point is we see what we want to see, applied personally to Rene who is from a cloistered background.(Hell, even I've seen a performance of "Madama Butterfly.") This is a more modest time when men and women might still have been old fashioned enough to not undress in front of each other. While open to new experiences, he is also very naive in miscomprehending them. Rene is symbolic of the French government which is a decade removed from being forcibly removed from Vietnam, just got ejected from Algeria and are still analyzing Asia through their own colonial preconceptions which leads to vast mistakes, and continues in the present day with other countries in the Middle East.
May 5, 2010
Harlequin68
Walter M.

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