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Review: ‘The Butterfly Queen’ Hits Home

A still from “The Butterfly Queen.” Courtesy image.
By Emery Brush

“The Butterfly Queen” is an endearing and heartfelt LGBTQ+ fairy tale about, in the filmmakers’ words, “Choosing between your home, friends, and childhood dreams”— and I’m not sure I could come up with better words for it myself. The film was produced in rural Vermont, and the passion and creativity the team brought to the table comes through. 

The movie, showing at the Savoy Theater March 18, centers on Casey and Robin, two high school friends with big dreams. The problem is, their dreams are very different. Casey wants to keep their grandparents’ farm running and focus on their art, while Robin wants to see the world. Five years later, the pair have drifted apart. Casey is getting some work published, but it’s not enough to keep the farm going. Their only hope lies in their sketchbook, which could make them enough money to fix things. But when Robin crashes back into Casey’s life, they find themselves running headfirst into a magical world to rescue Casey’s sketchbook, and their friendship.

The main themes of “The Butterfly Queen” struck home for me, and I have a feeling that they will for a lot of young folks who have grown up in the Green Mountain state. Casey and Robin’s friendship, and the differences between them felt personal, and their performances the same. 

The cinematography is beautiful — several shots made me want to pause the movie just to enjoy those frames a little longer. Additionally, I enjoyed the costuming on all the fantastical beings we meet in the film. 

Although overwhelmingly I enjoyed this film, a couple points caught my eye: the overall messaging of the movie seemed a little confused at times, and Ash’s character (played by Desponia) seemed a bit downplayed, which made it difficult to put the pieces of the story together and fully enjoy their arc. There is also one action scene toward the end of the movie with choreography and editing I found difficult to follow. 

The main cast (Kade Pintado, Desponia, and Sophia Anthony) play their parts well and knew when to pull on my heartstrings when it counted. Kade Pintado really shines, and it felt like they had been living on a farm in small-town Vermont their entire life. 

This film does a great job at highlighting experiences a lot of young people have as they grow into adulthood in Vermont, and it makes for an impressive sophomore effort by director Liam O’Connor-Genereaux and the team at WalrusDice Productions. It made quite the impression on me, and I think it will for you, too. 

The film is playing at the Savoy Theater on March 18, followed by a Q&A with the director and members of the production team.