Patrick Lawler, Theodore Schaefer
Gus Birney, Annie Parisse, Paul Sparks
Welcome to GIVING BIRTH TO A BUTTERFLY, the strange, melodic and haunting feature debut of Theodore Schaefer. After having her identity stolen, Diana (Annie Parisse) goes on a surreal road trip with her son’s pregnant girlfriend, Marlene (Gus Birney), to find the perpetrators. Shot on soft, pastel-toned 16mm, the film’s dreamy quality lulls you into its unusual atmosphere. As the lines between waking and dreaming life fade, the movie blends ironic, detached humour with a unique blend of American surrealism that explores, by way of kitsch and performance, a deep sense of alienation and loneliness. By destabilizing familiar tropes and actions, the film gets under your skin, and long after the credits roll, you’ll find yourself pulled back into its fantasy otherness like the tide pulling you out to sea.
GIVING BIRTH TO A BUTTERFLY proves the adage that less can be more. The smallest inflections and exaggerations significantly impact your subconscious, as it toys with your sense of discomfort. Without being confrontational, the movie unnerves feelings and ideas that you’d otherwise repress, pulling them to the surface with surgical precision. It’s a film that captures characters and familial situations deeply frustrated by role expectations, and picks at the open wounds of how we bring those roles to life against our better judgments and happiness. Truly one of the most beautiful films of the year, with expressive framing, incredible production design and a creeping sound design, GIVING BIRTH TO A BUTTERFLY is a deeply disquieting but mystical journey into the unconscious realm. – Justine Smith