Based on the best-selling novel by Julia Alvarez, the story of the Dominican Republic's Mirabal sisters, who in 1960 came to a mysterious end at the foot of a cliff, is grounded in historical truth. But the book's exploration of their innermost thoughts and motivations required authorial liberties like those taken by Sebastian Junger in The Perfect Storm. This Salma Hayek-driven vehicle offers only a nibble of a potentially fascinating story, using its hour-and-a-half running time primarily as a showcase for its star's various charms. The "butterflies" are three pampered sisters Minerva (Hayek), Patria (Lumi Cavezos) and Maria Teresa (Mia Maestro) who, after murderous dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (Edward James Olmos) indirectly engineers their father's death, discard their traditionalist leanings and help incite revolution against his regime. A fourth sister, Dede (Pilar Padilla), is too timid to join her sisters' rebellion and survives. Though the film looks as though it's meant to be an ensemble piece, the story could easily be called 'All About Minerva,' her relationship with Trujillo quickly becomes the story's focus and all other concerns take a back seat to its permutations. From their initial encounter in her youth, when she saves his life and he promises to remember her name, to her rejection of his advances at a royal ball and their final, politically-edged conflicts, the film invests all its energies in their meetings. The other sisters are woefully underused, especially the talented Cavazos' Patria; US viewers know Cavezos as the star of LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE. Indeed, the film is too ambitious in its scope, including a cameo from Marc Anthony that serves no great device. None of the characters are fully developed, a great shame for a film that could have engendered great sympathy; even Minerva is a mere caricature of feminist humanity. Director Mariano Barroso periodically interrupts the unfolding story with flashforwards to Minerva, imprisoned and dirty, but the foreboding direction is unnecessary. Olmos' performance is so uninspired that the ending can be read in his listless eyes.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Based on the best-selling novel by Julia Alvarez, the story of the Dominican Republic's Mirabal sisters, who in 1960 came to a mysterious end at the foot of a cliff, is grounded in historical truth. But the book's exploration of their innermost thoughts a… (more)