The Butterfly Tree might cause a bit of a flutter – Movie Review
In the interests of openness and fair play, I’ll kick off this review by stating that The Butterfly Tree is outside my normal comfort zone of the type of film I cover, being more of a specialist in horror/sci-fi. But having said that, it’s refreshing to sometimes wander outside my regular genre haunts and experience something different, dipping my toe into what might best be called pure film.
I suppose the best label for The Butterfly Tree is as a coming of age film, but that doesn’t quite cover it, as the plot is a little more complex than that, and perhaps performed differently, it could have been a raucous and farcical American Pie style comedy – but other than a couple of light scenes, it’s a very sensitive, honest and raw movie that certainly pulled me in and held my interest.
The Butterfly Tree is an Australian production, set in a rural area and the focus is on a widower, Al (Ewen Leslie) and his pubescent son Fin (Ed Oxenbould). Al, a lecturer at a nearby college is trying to move on with his life and is having an ill-advised affair with a student. Fin, meanwhile is still deeply grieving the loss of his mother who died three years earlier, to the point of creating a makeshift shrine to her in the woods close to their home and celebrating her birthday there.
The fact that his Al has an active sex life is beginning to create a rift between him and Fin, and into this situation arrives a new element in the form of Evelyn (Melissa George), an attractive ex-burlesque roller skater and dancer who has bought the local florist business.
On his way home from his mother’s shrine, a curious Fin wanders into the shop and meets Evelyn who offers him a job, and immediately becomes the focus of his first crush. Al also happens to meet her the following day and is understandably attracted to her. Initially, neither father nor son is aware of the growing emotional attachment the other has toward Evelyn and thus the fuse is lit on an explosive situation. Added to this is Evelyn’s own baggage which becomes a surprising and tragic plot twist, which I won’t spoil here.
Both male actors give realistic and natural performances, but Melissa George is truly stunning as Evelyn. Adding to the film’s appeal is the cinematography. It has long been a complaint of mine that the current trend of draining film of their colour, or oversaturating the blue hues makes watching the movies a cold and miserable experience. Not so in this case – the colours are breathtakingly vibrant and outstanding. The sequences which feature actual butterflies (yes, there actually IS a butterfly tree in the film) are crisp and simply gorgeous to watch.
So, ultimately, great performances, the picture actually looks great on the screen, a solid plot and a decent soundtrack score. An hour and a half well spent. It has a limited cinema release on July 13, 2018