TIFF 2018: Float Like A Butterfly

Paying homage to The Greatest, Float Like A Butterfly is grounded through the relationship between a father and daughter living in a rural area in Ireland.

At first glance, the Irish drama looks like it could be just another sports movie.  Michael (Dara Devaney) is raising his daughter, Frances (Hazel Doupe as an adolescent), to be a fighter at a young age.  Things changed when he arrested and sent away to prison for a good decade.  Frances lost a lot with her father in jail but the death of her mom, Margaret (Lisa Lambe).  Witnessing her mother’s death and seeing her dad get arrested leads to a lot of psychological and emotional trauma.  So she turns to boxing as a result.

Frances’ obsession with boxing never went away even with her dad rotting in jail.  Her obsession with Louisville-born boxer Muhammad Ali is very much alive.  It’s only when her dad gets released from jail that we see the two no longer see eye to eye.  Maybe it’s because of what he saw but he wants a different life for his daughter.  Would it be a better life?  Honestly, it’s very hard to say.  In spite of it all, Frances won’t back down.  Her rage is there when a bigoted cop known only as Sergeant (Aidan O’Hare) comes back into her life.

The film’s climax plays out in way that’s similar to the dance drama, Billy Elliott, released nearly two decades ago.  The only difference being that Frances and Billy are different genders.  They both have fathers who originally disapprove of what their children are doing but eventually come around.  And it helps, too, that producer Martina Niland was behind a pair of John Carney-directed films, Once and Sing Street.

What writer-director Carmel Winters does is change up coming of age story.  Not only is Frances forced to come to age in the absence of both parents but her dad is certainly no father figure.  Because of the arrogant cop, Frances was robbed of at least a decent childhood with both parents.  Upon his return, Michael thinks that he can get the old normal back not realizing that Frances needs a father who will allow her to grow into the young woman she is becoming.

Ultimately, what Float Like A Butterfly is seeking to show us is that when we can become anything we want when we’re in the right environment.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER:  Carmel Winters
CAST:  Hazel Doupe, Dara Devaney, Johnny Collins, Hilda Fay, Lalor Roddy

Float Like A Butterfly held its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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