While it can at times be confusing due to the mosaic pattern, and Lou's style might not be for everyone, this is a truly stunning movie with some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. The story of love and revolution is engaging, in large part due to the excellent acting performances and the fascinating characters. The soundtrack is also great, and helps the overall beauty of the movie.
If a film is going to show a tangled web of relationships resolve itself, through violence or otherwise, it needs to spend some time showing us those tangles. Unfortunately Lou Ye focused more on making it rain. So much so that it became a distraction about two-thirds of the way through. I understand that noir implies most if not all scenes are dark, but the rain is overkill. The film is a beautifully shot mess.
It is the year 1936, Cannabis Prohibition would be invented out of the whole cloth by Harry J. Anslinger, Jr. - traitor to the world. Purple Butterfly , set in that era where nerds could .. just sit and watch ... a 1920s era hand operated switchboard... It makes you wonder what it means to be human. Especially the nexus 6. As if, ships on fire burning in the darkness near tannheuser gate.... like tears..in ..rain..
Scenes edited with an almost feverish kinectism juxtaposed with long linger shots where the camera seems to be trying to peer beneath the facade of face and see the turmoil hidden behind. Compelling story. Impeccable performances. Breathtaking cinematography.
Noirish espionage tale, set in China just prior to and during the Japanese invasion. It was a bit hard to follow at first, but after 20 minutes or so, it began to make sense. The cinematography was excellent. I particularly liked the ballroom scene, mentioned by other reviewers, and the haunting music that plays as it unfolds. Bleak.
Purple Butterly mines a popular subject in the Chinese consciousness, Japanese wartime aggression. Although the film is wonderfully filmed and adequately acted, it is ultimately underwhelming. It is essentially a reimagining of the late years of China's “Century of Humiliation” crafted to create a sense national pride. Its resistance group is invented and ultimately not compelling, a lot like the film's trite romance
The handheld camera, editing, and sound design combine to lend a dreamlike aura to this wartime romance. This is most effective when Lou turns his focus away from the plot and allows us to linger in sensual nostalgia. The climactic condemnation of political violence is grimly rewarding, but the plot generally proves to be less interesting than the film's aesthetics.
Unfortunately convoluted, yes; but a moody, stylish, impeccably crafted film otherwise -- the angsty lovechild of John Woo and Wong Kar-wai, even more so than "My Heart is That Eternal Rose." It's got the former's operatic action, heightened intensity and free-flowing grace as well as the latter's patience, ensemble staging, candid romance and visual pizzazz. Worth watching.