The Butterfly

Much as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind can be traced back to Alain Resnais' Je t'aime, je t'aime, this poetic South Korean SF feature by Moon Seung-wook (2001)—set in the present and including the same theme of characters who seek memory loss—is one of the many stepchildren of Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville. As in the earlier film, the sound periodically drops off, with a similarly chilling effect, but the sources of melancholy here seem less technological than ecological and psychological. It's interesting that the movie's “butterfly tours,” which expose patrons to the “oblivion virus,” are closely associated with the U.S. (all the TV ads are in American English), while the forced abortions of teenagers suffering from lead poisoning seem tied to the acid rain—the American legacy of the greenhouse effect. More impressionistic than scientific, this sad poem lingers. In English and subtitled Korean. 116 min.

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