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The Butterfly Effect

Change one thing, change everything 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber 
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters  
An image from The Butterfly Effect

Evan Treborn is having a rough childhood. Like his "crazy" father, Evan suffers from blackouts where he cannot remember certain moments from his life. One minute he's eating cereal at the table, but the next he's standing up grasping a kitchen knife, which he cannot remember picking up. He has some messed up friends as well; Tommy, who's prone to violence; Kayley, who gets abused; and Lenny, who's depressed.

At the age of 20 Evan begins to reread his childhood diaries and finds a way to access his repressed memories, but he cannot believe what they contain. Asking Kayleigh about what happened stirs up her own issues and causes her suicide. In Evan's mourning he accesses more of his memories and discovers that when he remembers them - he actually relives them, and so has the power to change them. By altering his past and that of his friends, Evan tries to create a better future, but every action has a reaction, not always the one he intended.

The Butterfly Effect is an intriguing thriller littered with touching moments of friendship and self-sacrifice. Interest is easily held throughout the film by the ever-changing situation of the protagonists. Evan's blackouts provide moments of sudden drama, as he often wakes up to dangerous situations without knowing how he got there.

This film has its unpleasant moments; it deals with some horrific events from the childhoods of the protagonists. Some moments are quite shocking, not because they are graphic but because they are implicitly upsetting, for example when Evan's dog is burnt.

If you have ever watched Punk'd you might be put off by the thought of Ashton Kutcher as a serious actor, but there's no need as his acting is surprisingly good. Amy Smart also gives a believable and emotive performance, as do all the actors in general.

This film is a well-paced original story, told cleverly and achieves a level of drama and emotion not seen in many thrillers. It will shock you, amuse you and most of all make you think. The Butterfly Effect is well worth seeing.

Nick Grills

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)
2011/2012 Autumn Term (35mm)