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Bobby Mahon is an actor playing a notorious serial killer on prime-time television. The show becomes a hit, which encourages the real-life murderer on whom it's based, to go on a spree to make it on screen.
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Whilst the plot centers around a policeman, this is not a police story. In fact John McKeown emphatically dislikes being a policeman. Two teenage boys discover a murdered man at a breakers yard they had intended to rob. They are arrested on suspicion of murder, but it becomes obvious to McKeown that these were just two amateur burglars who got more than they bargained for. During the course of the investigation, McKeown discovers that Dex, 17, a parks and gardens laborer, is bringing up his younger brother and sister alone. An unlikely friendship develops as McKeown becomes impressed by what Dex is making of his life. Although living on a council estate on the fringes of Manchester, Dex has created a beautiful garden (mainly from materials he has lifted from work). McKeown and his girlfriend Sandra become regular visitors to Dex's home, inspired by this young family who seem so determined to survive. The situation changes radically when McKeown suddenly has reason to question Dex's ... Written by
Dex Lister is a 17-year old caring for his two grade school siblings in a home that is missing its parents. Suspected and then arrested by Det. John McKeown in the murder of a factory supervisor, Lister's fitness as a guardian comes into question. The plot moves through a series of circumstances that eventually lead the viewer to question the motives of the detective and the young suspect. Are Dex's parents really missing? Is he all that he portrays himself to be? Is the detective's judgment being clouded by his personal problems?
Pete Postlethwaite as John McKeown and Jamie Draven as Dex Lister are excellent. The interchange between the two, first as friends and then as foes, heightens as each new fact is uncovered. "Butterfly Collectors" is as much a murder mystery as an examination of the effect people have on one another and their families.
I found it difficult, at times, hearing the dialogue clearly because of the thick dialect. Still "Butterfly Collectors" is a smart, intelligent made-for-TV movie, worth the almost three-hour view.
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