A “thriller” based on the 2008 French TV Movie originally titled Papillon noir, Brian Goodman’s version of Black Butterfly, tries hard to be clever by having a plot layered with different levels of crazy, but manages only to annoy.
Another woman in Jefferson County has been murdered, the fourth in three years, and Paul (Antonio Banderas), an alcoholic screenwriter is this close to being punched in a diner. The only thing that prevents the beating is a mysterious drifter named Jack (Jonathon Rhys Meyers). After coming across Jack again on the road, Paul offers him a bed for the night. Back at Paul’s remote house, Jack manages to extend his stay from one night to three days…give or take. To get him over his writer’s block, Jack encourages Paul to cut out the booze and even supplies him with the next great idea for a screenplay that is assured to get Paul out of his slump. Paul should write their story. And so the story within a story begins as Jack encourages Paul to refashion the current narrative of a writer and a drifter with some imagination and a lot of psychotic behaviour.
Unfortunately, Banderas and Meyers don’t give moving performances. Banderas likes to mumble and shake his head and Meyers likes to sigh a lot and then repeatedly say “Paul”. Just an idea, but Black Butterfly would provide a perfect opportunity for a drinking game – take a shot every time the character of Jack uses Paul’s name and I guarantee you’ll be black-butterfly-out drunk by the end.
I didn’t dislike the premise of the movie, it was interesting enough; however, the cast did not live up to the plot’s potential. At the beginning Meyers’ acting seems forced. It’s not until the end of the movie when things start to get tense and heated that Meyers seems to truly embrace the crazy and violent nature of his character. His co-stars aren’t much better. Banderas is not at all exciting to watch and one of the few other characters, Laura, played by Piper Perabo is cliché and boring.
But for all the lack of character development and believability, the worst thing about Black Butterfly is the ending. I understand that some endings are supposed to give you a jolt, or leave you with questions or make you pause and think about what you just watched, but there are still good and bad endings. A good ending could be any or all of the above and still leave you feeling fulfilled.
Not the case for Black Butterfly whose bad ending was a total cop out. In a matter of seconds, it erases everything and anything of value. There were two occasions when the movie could have plausibly concluded and left audiences satisfied (or decently so), but Goodman decided to keep the third, actual ending and turn his movie into a total waste of time. Any slight investment you might have had in the characters vanishes, the story within a story subplot dries up and blows away, and all that’s left is a hollow and flimsy excuse for a thriller.
Black Butterfly is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, Video-On-Demand, and Digital on June 27, 2017