M. Butterfly 1993

M. Butterfly

Critics Consensus

David Cronenberg reins in his provocative sensibility and handles delicate material with restraint, yielding a disappointing adaptation that flattens M. Butterfly into a tedious soap opera.

43%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 21

67%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,330

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Movie Info

René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) is a diplomat from France who has been sent to Beijing. While acclimating to life in China, Gallimard meets and becomes enamored of Song Liling (John Lone), an opera singer who wears traditionally ornate dress and makeup. The two begin a relationship, but, unfortunately for Gallimard, there is much about Song that he doesn't know. Among the revelations that Gallimard must contend with is the discovery that his lover is a man.

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Critic Reviews for M. Butterfly

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (12)

Audience Reviews for M. Butterfly

  • May 05, 2010
    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.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 04, 2010
    Strange film, even for Cronenberg.
    Tim S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 28, 2009
    One of David Cronenburg's best,M.Butterfly, is based on a true story. John Lone is awesome as madame butterfly and Jeremy Irons is in his usual cold, upper class self role. I simply enjoyed this gentleman on screen. Perfect casting for a director filming a moving story of love and loss. For those who love this story itself, you will definitely agree how this movie perfectly described a story which tells " only in real life could love become so unreal." Also this is a good movie to watch if you are interested in the type of movie which entangle east and west, love and betrayal, passion and illusion... Highly recommending..
    Daisy M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 16, 2009
    David Cronenberg's strength is bringing out the humanity of the oddest characters in the oddest situations. Perhaps the well-known story of M Butterfly was too narrow for him to experiment? Perhaps he decided it was best to stick to the play as faithfully as possible? I don't know what happened, but the imaginative, irreverent, twisted, the king of psychosexual dramas that David Cronenberg has always been and that I have always loved, is repressed. Little inventiveness. All in all, a very conventional film. The upside: beautiful cinematography, excellent performance from John Lone and Jeremy Irons. Jeremy Irons can do no wrong. He always plays very similar, tortured characters, but does a great job in every occasion. Rene Gallimard is a blind, vague character, but Irons pulls out the best of him. I would watch the film only to see that. Bottomline: this could have been fantastic! It's just good.
    Elvira B Super Reviewer

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