Caterina, a 12-year-old girl, lives in a run-down Sardinian neighborhood with her poverty-stricken family. Her father is a worthless and selfish and her brothers are hostile, leaving Caterina’s mother to work long hours to support their large family. Caterina spends most of her time with her best friend Luna, escaping the frantic apartment she shares with her other siblings. While Caterina is certainly a well-adjusted girl, sex and violence are presented as everyday aspects of life in this poor area of Cagliari. There have been many films dealing with a similar subject matter as Salvatore Mereu’s Pretty Butterflies but I’m not sure any of them have every been this personal in approach. The is a film more about character and setting than plot, with a free-wheeling narrative that provides a vivid portrait of a day in the life of Caterina. Evocative and Gritty, Pretty Butterflies is entirely from the point-of-view of the incredibly street smart and perceptive Caterina. Pretty Butterflies frequently breaks the fourth-wall, with Caterina talking directly into the camera with great effect. This type of approach doesn’t always work but in Pretty Butterflies it makes the audience feel more than just a spectator, putting the viewer into this world with Caterina. While lots of films in this gritty setting are much more doom and gloom, Pretty Butterflies is refreshingly alive, showing how Caterina and Luna’s street smarts help them navigate this threatening environment. In a way this film is more a celebration of life, even with the troubles and dangers which exist, with our young girl protagonists exuding exuberance and finding the whimsical aspects of life even in somewhat suspect situations. Salvatore Mereu’s Pretty Butterflies captures a youthful perspective in such a refreshing way, showing that even in harsh environments the beautiful aspects of life can shine through.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.