Review: Giving Birth to a Butterfly

Written and directed by Theodore Schaefer, co-written by Patrick Lawler, after having her identity stolen, a woman, and her son’s pregnant girlfriend, bond together on a surreal journey as they attempt to track down the perpetrators. Starring: Annie Parisse, Gus Birney, Owen Campbell, Paul Sparks, Rachel Resheff, Constance Shulman and Judith Roberts.

Very quickly Giving Birth to a Butterfly gives an offbeat vibe, it has an old school style that brings a nostalgic edge. There’s a simplicity that style brings which lets it slowly wander through its story, creating something that’s about the journey not the destination. What’s interesting about the story is that there’s a lot of curiosity and hidden depth at work, exploring larger themes beneath the surface. Unfortunately they feel underserved but they’re the beginnings of something more emotional, a conversation about self-worth and mental health. The story still works without that further dive but there’s a quality to it that feels unfinished.

There’s an unusual or unique edge to the way that Giving Birth to a Butterfly moves, it gradual builds an underlying mystery which comes out in full force in its final moments. The strangeness of it is intriguing and it’s definitely setting itself apart but it doesn’t always feel justified. The atmosphere is there, the visual is soft and emotional, there’s something unthreatening and wholesome about it. It welcomes you into this story and makes it effortless to follow along with these characters.

Annie Parisse and Gus Birney lead the story very well, they create extremely relatable characters who are wearing their flaws on their sleeves. They own that they’re not perfect people and that they’re unsure what they’re doing or where they’re headed. Birney brings such a wonderful openness to Marlene, she somehow creates such a kind, naïve feel while also making her character intelligent and aware. Parisse’s Diana on the other hand shows a potential future for Marlene, someone whose kindness has been taken advantage of so many times that she’s both losing herself and having anything to give.

As well as being supported by a superb supporting cast, primarily Constance Shulman whose character is an unexpected exploration of mental health. She’s so broken and struggling with no-one to help her, yet she manages to keep her warped illusion going. Owen Campbell isn’t given too much time to get involved but he creates a very sweet persona and certainly not your average teen.

Giving Birth to a Butterfly is a very interesting debut feature from Theodore Schaefer, with strong style and presence. It goes down a few roads that aren’t fully explored and it maybe needed to establish its eccentricities further to make them land with a bigger impact but the story is captivating, nonetheless. There’s a strong cast at work, led well by Annie Parisse and Gus Birney who create a natural and touching friendship.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Exclusively Streaming on Fandor from May 16 | For more info visit

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