Thursday 18 May 2023

Movie Review: The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Genre: Fantasy Drama
Directors: Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz
Running Time: 113 minutes

Synopsis: At seven-years-old, Evan learns that his incarcerated father possesses special powers. Evan then starts suffering blackouts, including during an episode of child abuse instigated by the father (Eric Stoltz) of his friend Kayleigh and her brother Tommy. At 13, blackouts accompany a prank that goes tragically wrong and a violent incident involving a dog. As a 20-year-old college student, Evan (Ashton Kutcher) reunites with an unhappy Kayleigh (Amy Smart), and realizes that through his journals he may hold the power to alter destiny's trajectory.

What Works Well: Co-directors and co-writers Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber craft an intricate, elaborate, and brilliantly thoughtful drama about little actions making a big difference. As Evan experiments with destiny's alternatives, the certainty of finding no easy pathways and always stumbling on unintended consequences plays out with magnificent suddenness, life's violence and humour often rubbing shoulders. With confident execution, Bress and Gruber maintain a strong hold on the intellectually sprawling material, allowing Ashton Kutcher to find a career highlight in an unlikely role.

What Does Not Work As Well: As a minor quibble, Evan's mother Andrea (Melora Walters) has a strong initial influence, but fades in the second half.

Conclusion: The vagaries of fate revealed with wicked cleverness.

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