Series/Festivals 

The Butterfly (Le Papillon) (unrated) Phillipe Muyl. This tale of a gruff old man and the precocious little girl who worms her way into his heart sounds so predictable that viewers will be tempted to reject it out of hand. In the end, of course, it wins you over completely. Veteran French actor Michel Serrault is septuagenarian Julien, a butterfly collector less ornery than simply solitary, and Claire Bouanich is eight-year-old Elsa, adorable but badly neglected by her young, single mother. Elsa stows away in Julien's car when he drives into the mountains in search of a rare species of butterfly. Julien's attempts to reach Elsa's mother are unsuccessful, and he has no choice but to keep the child. Writer/director Philippe Muyl avoids both sentimentality and false pathos -- and creates unexpected tension when police put out an all-points bulletin, fearing that Julien has kidnapped the girl. Although the film teeters on the edge of cutesiness, it never topples over. Credit for that goes to both Muyl and his actors. In French, with English subtitles. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, April 9, through Sunday, April 11, in Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University (470 E. Lockwood Avenue). Call 314-968-7487 for more information. (Jean Oppenheimer)

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