Attempting to fulfill his late son's last wish, lonely widower Julien (Michel Serrault) goes hunting for the Isabella butterfly, a notoriously elusive insect whose metamorphosis serves as a convenient metaphor for growth. Before Julien sets off, his nine-year-old neighbor Elsa (Claire Bouanich) hides in his car; the quaint, predictable life lessons that ensue make one long for the relative thematic depth of, say, Kolya. Julien initially wants to return Elsa to her absent mother, but soon he's holding her hand, teaching her about what it means to find a needle in a haystack, and correcting her malapropisms ("With mommy gone, they'll throw me in an orifice!" she cries). An ostensible antidote to moppet-phobia, the movie is so pervasively precious that it's likely to have the opposite effect. The Isabella only lives for three days and three nights; The Butterfly barely lasts in memory that long.
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