Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Butterfly’

Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Butterfly’

Every two years, the Olympics roll around and nations collectively care for two weeks about sports they otherwise have no interest in. Gold, Silver, or Bronze, and you’ll likely be remembered for a few more weeks afterwards. But what about those who fail to medal, or underperform at the biggest competition of their life? How do you deal with the disappointment of an off-day at the worst possible time? These are the questions co-directors Alessandro Cassigoli and Casey Kauffman strive to answer with this feature documentary Butterfly, a film focused on 18-year-old Olympic boxer Irma “Butterfly” Testa, the younger competitor in the discipline at the Rio Games. The answer provided is one of heartbreak, community, and redemption in this intimate portrait of an athlete trying to answer the dreaded underlying question: what now?

Cassigoli and Kauffman’s film clearly has a higher production value than most documentaries, evidenced by the sheer amount of shot coverage the film manages to use. The editing in particular is noticeably tight for a feature documentary, and at times Butterfly feels like it crossed the border of documentary into fiction on more than one occasion. All of this, imbues the film with a kinetic energy that is certain to make the film dramatically watchable. The eighty-minute run-time feels extremely breezy and pleasant.

Where Buttefly struggles is in concealing its endpoint. While the film has a constantly moving pace, it feels as if we are moving to a pre-determined conclusion that the audience can likely guess early on. Yet, for such a short run time you are certain to get as much bang for your buck as possible with this film.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
Comments are closed.