Giving Birth To A Butterfly Review: A Road Trip Movie Delves Into The Unknown

If directors David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky were to take a road trip through working-class America to meet a long-lost cousin, surely filmmaker Theodore Schaefer would tag along. That’s the vibe you get when you watch Give birth to a butterfly, Schaefer’s moving, sometimes haunting, but utterly intriguing first feature film. Shot on 16mm pastel, this film oozes pain as it follows a mysterious road trip taken by two strangers whose lives come together by chance.


If you like surreal and fanciful outings along the lines of twin Peaks, or even one of those alt-universe riverdale seasons, Give birth to a butterfly should do the trick. What works in Schaefer’s favor, though, is that he bases his story, which he co-wrote with screenwriter Patrick Lawler, on something relatable: a family surviving financial hardship and layers of unspoken emotions.

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The film stars Annie Parisse (college friends), Gus Birney (dickinson), Rachel Resheff, Clifton Samuels, Paul Sparks, César J. Rosado, Jessica Pimentel, and orange is the new black Judith Roberts, turning on the wow factor here.


The big surprise of a working-class family

Cast of Giving Birth to a Butterfly
cinedigma

Give birth to a butterfly It starts with a touch of “normalcy”. Diana (Parisse) works at a local pharmacy to help keep her family afloat financially. Husband Daryl (Sparks) is in his own world, feeding his unrealistic dreams far more than tending to the real needs of his family. He talks about opening a restaurant, but his work is going nowhere, and he doesn’t seem willing to do anything but stay afloat.

Diana and Daryl’s children, Drew and Danielle (Resheff) are also baffled. Danielle works at a local theater, but Drew, perfectly content with working at a pet store, turns things around when he brings home a new girlfriend, Marlene (Birney). The girl is pregnant, but Drew is not her father. Diana watches with concern, then swallows her frustration when Daryl invites Marlene and her son over.

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It is here that the filmmakers give audiences something deeper to ponder. You can see it in Diana’s eyes: what she’s not saying, and perhaps what she hasn’t been saying for years. It’s that she’s withering inside. She maybe she feels that no one really sees or hears her, or that she even has the bandwidth to realize that she too is a human being, someone with deep and complex feelings. It’s all in the facial expressions, and Parisse does an exquisite job of capturing a woman caught up in the life she created. Who is this family that she is with?

One day, Diana receives another blow. She has been the victim of identity theft. Upset that the online culprit will get away with it, she seizes the initiative and decides to go after her money, basically going to the address where the product was shipped. In a bold move, she agrees to allow Marlene to tag along, setting up the road trip reflection movie that follows. Where she leads she may surprise you.

A road trip takes a curious turn

Cast of Giving Birth to a Butterfly
cinedigma

it is not surprising that Give birth to a butterfly It has swept film festivals. Parisse and Birney feed into this story and the supporting cast, odd as they are, give the film an extra layer of whimsy. Some of it seems more forced than it should be, but the point is clear: Diana is surrounded by people who never swim below the surface. Not precisely. Marlene seems different, however, and her relationship with her eccentric mother is a testament to how she has kept her sanity.

There’s a point where Diana and Marlene are on a trip when the movie gently veers into some sort of otherworldly ethereal world. Similar to how donnie darko sneaks up on you, suddenly you find yourself in new creative territory. Diane and Marlene bond, realizing, perhaps, that they are each at different intersections in their lives. The result takes Diana and the audience to a place of deeper questioning.

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As for the road trip itself, it’s really visual and the way the movie was shot adds to the dreamy touches throughout. You can’t help but wonder how much of what you’re experiencing in the final third of the film is real, or something else entirely. On that note, kudos to Judith Roberts for delivering a scene-stealing performance as Nina. Audiences will be amazed at how all of that plays out and it’s central to Diana’s trajectory. And even Marlene’s for that matter. Roberts is perfectly cast in a role that is sure to generate anticipation.

Better yet… the ending seems destined to stay with you long after you watch it. In a way, he asks: if you really had the opportunity to improve your life, would you do it? Would you give me birth of your own butterfly? Deep. quite

giving birth to a butterfly, by Cinedigm, is available to stream exclusively on Fandor, the company’s independent discovery platform, and will be available to rent on other on-demand digital platforms in the US.

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