Black Butterflies

Movies , Drama
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Liam Cunningham and Carice van Houten in Black Butterflies

The South African poet Ingrid Jonker killed herself at age 31, leaving behind a small body of work that led many to hail her as that nation's Sylvia Plath. (In 1994, newly elected president Nelson Mandela read a Jonker poem during his first address to Parliament.) Paula van der Oest's lush biopic about the writer doesn't avoid any of the genre's pitfalls--- the film always feels like a life schematically condensed rather than intimately explored. But Carice van Houten (Black Book) is superb as the emotionally unstable Jonker---all manically beaming highs and depressively gloomy lows, a tempestuous force of nature in a movie that too often plays it blandly polite.

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

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