Saturday, 4 June 2016

Butterfly Kiss (1995)

Michael Winterbottom’s first film (and his first collaboration with screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce) gets a UK DVD re-release courtesy of Fabulous Films.
Eunice (Amanda Plummer) is searching for something, and possibly someone. Wandering the A roads of Northern England, she stops at petrol stations asking after a particular song and wanting to know if the shop assistant’s name is Judith. No matter the response the encounter can sometimes end in bloody violence and death.

When Eunice comes into a petrol station run by Miriam (Saskia Reeves) it's the start of an uneasy relationship that leads to a spate of killings as the girls travel north on the M6 to a destination that can only end in disaster.

A 1990s British version of a Jack Hill-Roger Corman road movie, if this has been made by New World in the 1970s it would have been called something like ‘Psycho Girls’. Instead this is a more restrained, more thoughtful affair than the purest exploitation, but is no less bloody for it. BUTTERFLY KISS refers to eyelashes tickling skin, by the way.
There’s certainly a 1970s Pete Walker-style vibe to the grimness, though, from Miriam’s disabled mother who gets shoved into Miriam’s bedroom so the two girls can use the mother’s double bed to have sex on, to Ricky Tomlinson’s hapless lorry driver who meets a sticky end. 

I don’t doubt it was never Winterbottom's and Boyce’s intention to make a horror film, or even a thriller. Both seem far more fascinated with the development of the interaction between the two lead characters. Eunice is undoubtedly a very damaged individual, whereas Miriam has seen very little of the world. Most of the action is confined to main roads and motorways and the busy hotels and petrol stations that are peppered along the way, as if to emphasise the idea that Miriam and Eunice are just two of many eternal drifters unable to find (or know) what they want. 
Fabulous Films’ DVD comes with no extras. 

Michael Winterbottom's BUTTERFLY KISS is out on DVD from Fabulous Films on 13th June 2016

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