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by maryann johanson, liberal movie person

Butterfly (review)

Music, sex, nature, romance! Oh, the sweet mysteries of life young Moncho (Manuel Lozano) will find himself awakening to in the summer of 1936. A sweet-faced little boy with a shy smile, so delicate and sensitive his mother calls him her “sparrow,” Moncho is taken under the wing of his gentle and wise schoolteacher, Don Gregorio (Fernando Fernán Gómez), a rumored atheist who is enjoying a brief window of freedom during the Spanish Republic, after the fall of the monarchy and before the rise of the fascists. In a world caught between superstition and reason, Don Gregorio seizes the opportunity to steer Moncho toward the latter and show him that the world is more complicated — and more beautiful — than he’d ever realized. The renowned Fernán Gómez gives a heartbreaking performance, especially as the film turns dark near its end, but it’s young Lozano who steals the show. A natural actor, his wide-eyed wonder at everything around him — whether it’s a street carnival in his small town or a field full of bugs and butterflies waiting to be explored — draws us in so that we can’t help but celebrate the exquisite joy of simply being alive along with him. A film of poignant beauty, with a warmly humanistic outlook, this is a wonderful illustration of how opening a child’s mind to science and reason will set him free forever.


MPAA: rated R for a strong sex scene

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

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