M. Butterfly | EW.com

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M. ButterflyAmong 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...M. ButterflyDramaRAmong 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...1994-03-25Ian RichardsonBarbara SukowaIan Richardson, Barbara SukowaWarner Bros.
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M. Butterfly

Genre: Drama; Starring: Jeremy Irons, John Lone, Ian Richardson, Barbara Sukowa; Director: David Cronenberg; Author: David Henry Hwang; Status: In Season; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Warner Bros.

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

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