Set against the 1960s era of apartheid in South Africa, BLACK BUTTERFLIES follows the true story of poet Ingrid Jonker, as she descends through the darkness in her mind and the country around her. Moving from man to man, seeking a love that is never given to her by her right-wing politician father, it is through poetry that she tries to find some sense in the madness.
Spell-bindingly bleak yet beautifully shot, BLACK BUTTERFLIES moves seamlessly between the intimate moments of the characters and the wider scale issues of South Africa, putting both in perspective of one another. The country and Ingrid herself become synonymous; glorious to behold yet crumbling underneath. The film is faultlessly crafted with a powerful simplicity, relying on a strong script and even better acting. Indeed, Carice van Houten delivers a thundering performance as the wonderfully broken, self-destructive poet, and not only holds the film together but takes command – dragging the audience through the emotional turmoil of Ingrid’s inner demons. The impressive supporting cast boasts a brilliantly subtle turn by Rutger Hauer as Ingrid’s father, caught between his love for his daughter, and his political views and reputation.
Like the leading character, the film is poetic, harrowing and raw; coming to life in a heart-breaking tale of an artist who, despite herself, became a important voice within the collective consciousness of a nation crying out for freedom.
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