There is a scene in Black Butterflies where a character gives feedback to Adrien (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a writer, about his new book. He says, "It's well-written, but where is it going?" You could apply a similar sentiment to this series at that point: It's well-made, but where is it going? There are six episodes in Black Butterflies, and I could give away plot details up to episode 5. Yet, you wouldn't be able to guess where the series would head in its finale.
The basic premise is this. An old man named Albert (Niels Arestrup) asks Adrien to write a book on his life. The story starts with a childhood romance as a young Albert falls in love with a girl named Solange. They grow up and go to a beach, and it's here where the mood undergoes a change as the story takes its very first twist. Adjust to this feeling because Black Butterflies constantly changes its mood and hits you with plenty of twists. The more you get sucked into it, the more you realize how crazy this series is.
How do you review something like this? I want to avoid spoilers because one should go in blind. Let me still try, though before reading further, I would recommend you first watch the series.
Still here? Initially, Black Butterflies appears to be accusing men of being a rapist. Every man who seems to behave nicely with Albert (Axel Granberger plays the adult version) and Solange (Alyzée Costes) ends up forcing himself on Solange. Such men are killed by Albert, and the murder excites the couple into having passionate sex. And so, Albert and Solange become serial killers. She uses her sexuality to lure men into raping her, and then Albert comes out and stabs the person. According to Solange and Albert, they are eliminating rapey blokes from the face of the earth. They are making the world a better place to live in for other women.
Put on your brainy caps and unearth profound interpretations and subtexts. After knowing the whole story, you will only laugh at yourself for sounding so pretentious. That doesn't mean Black Butterflies wants to offend our intelligence or is merely interested in creating insane developments. I think it wants to convey that one should not come to conclusions without grasping the whole picture. Black Butterflies understands that the audience always seeks to be one step ahead. We continuously predict what will happen in the next scene and the next and arrive at a conclusion. Some movies and shows end as per your expectations. But with Black Butterflies, playing the game of predictions is futile. I am sure you will give up and just surrender to it after some time. You can also possibly dismiss it all as preposterous and quit watching the series after a couple of episodes itself.
Sure, the story takes absurd leaps, but I can assure you it all makes sense by the end. Everything comes together, and the dots are neatly connected. You see why that "secret" conversation between Adrien's mother, Catherine (Brigitte Catillon), and her wife, Nora (Alice Belaïdi), looked so tense. The echoes, too, work beautifully. When Nora runs after a car, you recall an earlier scene where she raced her husband. There is a horrifyingly visceral abortion scene. When a character named Nastya (Henny Reents) appears for the first time, the camera rushes toward her swiftly. You feel something in your gut but are not able to put your finger on it at that point. However, you understand your reaction when the series reveals something about (and later through) Nastya. Apparently, that swift zoom during her entry is an exclamation mark telling us that this character would drastically change the course of events.
Black Butterflies is successful because it is confident about its absurdity. It takes bizarre turns with a straight face because it has a plan in mind. Watching it is like driving through curvy roads, as you are never sure where the path will lead or what sights you will come across during the entirety of your journey. One of those sights could very well be a swarm of butterflies. "Black Butterflies" keeps you engaged, makes you restless, fills you with excitement, leaves you confounded, and charges you with exhilaration. You go through a myriad of emotions but are ultimately satisfied nonetheless.
Final Score – [10/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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