Black Butterflies

Movies, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
Liam Cunningham and Carice van Houten in Black Butterflies
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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