Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

M. Butterfly

Posted on

M. Butterfly

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
R
performer:
Jeremy Irons, John Lone, Ian Richardson, Barbara Sukowa
director:
David Cronenberg
distributor:
Warner Bros.
author:
62271
genre:
Drama

We gave it a C

Among other things, David Henry Hwang’s Broadway play was about passion, and David Cronenberg’s adaptation could have used some. Based on the bizarre-but-true case of a 1960s French diplomat (Jeremy Irons) whose Communist Chinese mistress (John Lone) was revealed to be not only a spy but a man, M. Butterfly is a story of desire triumphing over reality. Eschewing Crying Game-style surprises, Cronenberg tips his hand to Lone’s gender early on; the movie thus becomes a meditation on the nature of self-delusion. Unfortunately, in Irons’ gray performance, it’s the tragedy of an uninteresting man. Lone, by contrast, finds the story’s swooning, melodramatic heart, and it’s closer to an old Joan Crawford movie than Cronenberg seems comfortable with. C

Comments