×

Telluride Film Review: ‘Sadourni’s Butterflies’

Nearly a dozen years in the making, Dario Nardi’s debut tips its hat to the ghosts of German expressionism.

With:

Christian Medrano, Antonella Costa, Nicola Costantino, Ale Sergi. (Spanish dialogue)

A weird yet welcome sideshow oddity on the stage of international art cinema, “Sadourni’s Butterflies” blends black-and-white lensing, a lovestruck circus dwarf and Jorge Luis Borges’ literary influence into an attraction nonpareil among celluloid storytellers. Nearly a dozen years in the making, Argentine director Dario Nardi’s visual-driven, not-quite-silent feature debut most closely resembles the work of Guy Madden, tipping its hat to the ghosts of German expressionism even as it forges a path all its own. Though certain frames prove unforgettable, the logic required to make sense of them in sequence too easily eludes, ultimately pegging the pic for niche appreciation.

For those confused by the film’s title, Sadourni is the name of a dwarf (Cristian Medrano) obsessed with transforming himself, a trait he shares with nearly all the characters with whom he interacts. He wants to be taller, naturally, after having been cuckolded in his previous relationship — a dalliance that sends Sadourni to prison for the murder of his pregnant mistress.

Though not immediately apparent beneath his thick clown makeup, both character and star are a good decade younger in the film’s garishly tinted prologue owing to the unusually long production schedule. Nardi’s style also seems to have mellowed somewhat between these flashbacks and the present, allowing the story to settle into a more elegant rhythm when Sadourni is paroled several years later, though it’s still confusing to follow many of the story beats, to the extent that the avant-garde sequence of images often borders on inscrutable.

As Sadourni falls for a new love, he considers a return to the carnival and dabbles in fetish porn, hawking his treasures in order to afford a quack medical procedure designed to extend his height. It all plays like a half-remembered fever dream excavated from the earliest days of cinema, composed of individually stunning shots that never quite sublimate into anything tangible, but delight in their ingenuity and general affection for a visual style long considered lost.

Telluride Film Review: 'Sadourni's Butterflies'

Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival, Jan. 6, 2013. (Also in Abu Dhabi, Telluride film festivals.) Running time: 87 MIN. Original title: "Les mariposas de Sadourni"

Production:

(Argentina) A Buena Onda Internacional production in association with Buena Onda Films. Produced by Donald K. Ranvaud, Enrica de Biasi, Pierluidgi Navoni.

Crew:

Directed, written by Dario Nardi. Camera (B&W/color), Mariano Cuneo; editor, Alberto Ponce; music, Pablo Crespo; sound, Lucays Meyer; sound designer, Federico Billordo; visual effects, Alejandro Iturmendi; associate producer, Robert Bevan; line producer, Fernando Gondard.

With:

Christian Medrano, Antonella Costa, Nicola Costantino, Ale Sergi. (Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • Elsie Fisher and Bo Burnham2019 Writers

    Writers Guild Announces 2020 Awards Show Date

    The 72nd Annual Writers Guild Awards will take place in coinciding ceremonies in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton and the Edison Ballroom in New York on Feb. 1, the Writers Guild of America announced. The WGA will begin voting in November and will reveal this year’s TV nominees Dec. 5 and film Jan. 6. [...]

  • Tarantino Movies Ranked Illustration

    All of Quentin Tarantino's Movies Ranked

    In the history of cinema, has any director done more to elevate the idea of movies as cool than Quentin Tarantino? Certainly, the idea that films could be made by fans dates back at least to the French New Wave, when a group of die-hard critics stepped behind the camera. A few years later, Spielberg, [...]

  • A Stranger on the Beach

    Anonymous Content Wins Film Rights to Michele Campbell's 'A Stranger on the Beach' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anonymous Content has won the adaptive rights to the forthcoming Michele Campbell novel “A Stranger on the Beach.” In a competitive situation, Anonymous outbid multiple players for the thriller, which it will adapt for the big screen with in-house producers Alex Goldstone and Rosalie Swedlin. “Stranger” has been likened to sensual thrillers like “Fatal Attraction” [...]

  • Ridley Scott Matt Damon Ben Affleck

    Ridley Scott, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener Team on 'The Last Duel'

    Ridley Scott looks to have his next directing job, as he has signed on to direct “The Last Duel” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck attached to star. Damon and Affleck co-wrote the script with Oscar-nominated Nicole Holofcener. Scott, Damon and Affleck all producing along with Scott’s producing partner Kevin Walsh. Drew Vinton is also [...]

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor Comic Con

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the biggest volume of buzz for nine of the top 10 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content