Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Butterfly Breath (Pili Pala) brings tense Welsh drama

Butterfly Breath (Pili Pala) brings tense Welsh drama

Butterfly Breath (Pili Pala) is a 2019 Welsh mini-series, just now making its way to stream on Acorn TV. It’s the story of a few fraught, life-changing days in the lives of four friends. The stress is high for these characters as they work through the situation. There will be some spoilers ahead to summarize the series, but nothing major.

The series hasn’t been advertised much and looks neglected on IMDb, where it’s listed under the Welsh title Pili Pala. I’m delighted to bring you news about this hidden gem!

Catrin Mara, Dyfed Cynan, and Sian Reese-Williams in Butterfly Breath
The midwife Avril, the locum Rhys, and Sara work on a newborn

Butterfly Breath (Pili Pala) stars Sian Reese-Williams, a well-known face from other Welsh dramas. She’s a doctor in a pediatrics unit. Her husband Dygi (Rhys ap Trefor) handles the care of their two daughters much of the time due to her busy schedule. She really depends on him. Dygi is a filmmaker and set to work in Sweden for 3 months – a change Sara doesn’t want.

They lived near the coast and Sara swims in the ocean every day. I kept trying to understand the significance of all those shots of her swimming in the waves, but I didn’t come up with any brilliant ideas.

Their best friends are Elin (Fflur Medi Owen) and Jac (Owen Arwyn). Elin is pregnant with a very wanted child. Sara is her doctor. When she’s well along in the pregancy, tests show that the fetus has Edward’s Syndrome, a fatal genetic abnormality.

All the doctors agree that termination is the best solution. Elin is devastated, but she and Jac finally agree. When its time to do the termination, there’s a slight deviation from the normal protocol. Sara thought it was the best procedure at the time, but when Elin changed her mind about one part of the process it had terrifying implications for Sara’s future.

Sian Reese-Williams in Butterfly Breath
You don’t know what you’re talking about, Rhys.

From this point to the resolution of the series (it’s only 4 episodes), the stress level for all the characters ramps way up. Sara’s boss Beti (Nia Roberts) wants to get rid of her. Rhys (Dyfed Cynan), the locum assisting with pediatrics at the moment doesn’t like Sara and does something that threatens her career. Sara’s good friend, the midwife Avril (Catrin Mara) might or might not be a support when everything goes wrong.

Secrets between the good friends come out under stress, which adds to the tension affecting everyone involved in this story.

Sian Reese-Williams as the beleaguered doctor and Fflur Medi Owen as the distraught mother both gave excellent performances. The series maintained a fast pace and maximum intensity for the characters. The series is real life taken to emotional, dramatic heights. Claire Winyard directed 2 of the episodes.

Acorn TV doesn’t have a trailer, and I couldn’t find one online, but I made you this nice poster for Pinterest.

A poster for Butterfly Breath

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