The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Dir: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
It has been said something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. – Chaos Theory
This is the opening title card, and the overarching theme of ‘The Butterfly Effect’, a mind-bending science fiction drama starring Ashton Kutcher. I had been aware of this film since it first came out, had a feeling it would be quite a strange one, and now I’ve seen it I realise just how right I was.
Firstly I must point out that there are a lot of quite dark themes and subjects tackled in this film, some of which are very unpleasant, though handled in ways that do clearly treat them as such and not lightly, they are themes that many people would prefer to avoid.
The psychological and sci-fi aspects at times reminded me of such films as ‘Twelve Monkeys’, ‘Shutter Island’ and ‘Triangle’. If you are familiar with those, then you’ll have some idea what to be expecting from this. I won’t delve much into the plot, but pivotal to the story is a lot of flashback sequences that prove the Chaos Theory that small things can have big consequences. Psychology has long affirmed that often a person’s childhood and events in early life will have a strong influence either positively or negatively on how they will develop as they grow up, and therein lies the drama that unfolds.
Whereas yesterdays film showed a beautiful and idyllic picture of childhood, ‘The Butterfly Effect’ shows completely different views, and sadly ones that may be all too true for many.
At risk of spoiling the ending, one of the things I liked most about this film was that it didn’t end in a way of forced perfection. The majority of films, especially romances and romantic comedies, follow the Todorovian theory of narrative in an overly simplified and optimistic way. Though this does follow that to some degree, the new equilibrium the film concludes with is not necessarily the one foreseen or hoped for by most viewers. This to me was a real strength.
I think that’s essentially all I can say without something small I type having a major influence on your life by spoiling the film for you… if you choose to watch it.