Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Netflix Picks: 'Black Butterfly' Deals w/ Rape of Aspiring Olympic Swimmer

Shadow and Act By Vanessa Martinez | Shadow and Act May 2, 2013 at 9:43PM

Netflix Picks: 'Black Butterfly' Deals w/ Rape of Aspiring Olympic Swimmer
1
Black Butterfly

Here’s a less than perfect film streaming on Netflix, which we’ve profiled a few times before. Black Butterfly can be appreciated for its efforts to bringing an important story to the screen, one that unfortunately many teens - especially of color - find themselves in.

If only the film’s acting were more even; the narrative more focused and its delivery less heavy-handed. Yet, it is still recommend viewing. Helmed by Mark Harris, Black Butterfly stars newcomer Mahogany Monae, whom by the way I couldn’t find any further info on, not even an imdb page.

Monae plays Ariel, a charismatic high school student who aspires to be a professional swimmer, with dreams of participating in the 2012 Olympics. A circle of supportive love ones surrounds her: loving, mid-to-upper class parents, a loyal boyfriend and a caring, mentoring swimming coach.

The film does a good job engaging you by setting up a believable situation in which a young woman’s world can be turn upside down by an awful and unprecedented rape. It’s not common to see a rape depiction and treatment in film, especially of a young woman of color, that didn’t seem exploitative or unnecessary. Yet this small-scale production packs a punch to the gut with such depiction, thanks greatly to the performance by Monae.

Without giving much away, Ariel is raped by an acquaintance, (one of her father’s police work force partners) which is the most common type of rape statistically. Afterwards, Ariel struggles with feelings of shame, secrecy and grief, which are quite stirring to watch. If it weren’t for the nuanced quality of her performance, the film wouldn’t have worked as a whole. I also appreciated the depiction of Ariel’s mentally disabled brother and how her family dealt with him.

There were certain elements of the film that were revealing and enlightening, primarily because they aren’t common in film. Historically, black women’s reality as disproportionately being victims of rape has been overlooked. There seems to be a misconception that black women aren’t being raped as much as it really happens, and there also seems to be a stigma of those women who “cry rape” that prompt many to immediately question and/or doubt many victims. It’s a complex issue; feel free to shed light in the comment section.

As I said previously, it’s not a perfect film, and certainly not technically masterful. Some of the scenes have a rehearsal/acting workshop quality to them and some may be just a tad over the top, especially toward the climactic end, but the message in Black Butterfly resonates, and it is one that is rarely explored realistically in films for and by people of color.

This article is related to: Reviews, NetFlix


Shadow & ActNewsletter