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The Butterfly Tattoo
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Butterfly Tattoo More at IMDbPro »

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26 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

"Good. Very good."

Author: Phil Hawkins (phil-797) from United Kingdom
28 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From: - The witch rarely gets to go to premieres of any kind, so the UK premiere of The Butterfly Tattoo made a welcome change. It was on last night at Cornerhouse in Manchester, as part of a short film festival, and whereas it wasn't full, it was very busy. They moved the screening to cinema one, which I assume was to accommodate more people.

The film? It was good. Very good. I'd heard it was very good, and then I read a review somewhere which claimed it wasn't, particularly. So we went with open minds, and Daughter was warned that it wouldn't end happily. The script follows Philip Pullman's book pretty closely, so you do get the bad end at the beginning, so to speak.

It's Romeo and Juliet, really. Some very intense love when boy meets girl, and then lots of confusion as they lose touch. Lots of searching, to a backdrop of someone else's criminal behaviour, which eventually comes to have a bearing on the lives of Chris and Jenny as well.

You can tell that the film was filmed on a budget, but I wish more films were, if this is the result. There is nothing that would have been better for more money. I was particularly struck by one of the love scenes, which was blissfully quiet. In a more commercial film the couple would have found they were accompanied in the bedroom by a large orchestra. Here, there was nothing. No sound at all. Just as it should be.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with the director Phil Hawkins and some of the cast and crew, with more crew members in the audience. I was going to say that they tried to save on money by having many of them be both cast and crew, but that's silly, as nobody got paid. I suppose it just shows how versatile they are. Who'd have thought that the drunk was actually the director himself?

The questions were along the lines of, well I don't remember, because they were so technically knowledgeable that I didn't even understand the questions, let alone the answers. I did get that they could only afford one camera, though. And it rained for the ball scene, and they had to hurry before the extras all died of hypothermia.

It was all done in five weeks, and I hope that cinemas all over the world will see the light and buy The Butterfly Tattoo. Philip Pullman was right to let someone young buy the rights to his book for peanuts. Sometimes enthusiasm will do more than years of experience and loads of finance. And perhaps I'm just put out that I didn't act fast enough to buy a share or two in the film.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Stunning performance by new actors

Author: SjaakadeliC from Netherlands
11 May 2010

My friend brought this movie over on DVD for a movie night. I had no idea what to expect and had never heard of the novel it was based off.

I thought of butterfly as in the butterfly effect. But still i watched this movie with no expectations. As picky as i sometimes get about movies i was blown away by the impact of this movie had on me. Such a beautiful and sad story. Now even after a week of watching the movie i am still thinking about it(this doesn't happen to me very often) as in how much impact this made on my personal feelings. I watched Kick-Ass this week in the cinema, good movie but after the movie was done you still have good laugh about it that evening but the next day i didn't even think about it anymore. With butterfly tattoo it was different for me.

Also i had never heard from the actors but i also thought they had good chemistry together(the 2 main characters), but the guy who played Barry overacted sometimes which made me chuckle at times. Also Jessica Blake was eye-candy to me, such a beautiful woman. As how she acted how can a man not love her. Definitely better than kebab haha.

After watching the movie i went here to IMDb and saw that these actors are somewhat all newbies and that this movie was made with a small budget.

The fact that the 2 main characters are new actors... i was stunned by their performance. This blew me away even more and the only thing i can say about it is: BRAVO! You guys made my evening and i definitely plan on getting this movie on DVD to put it into my own collection! I hope to see more of these actors in the near future, they deserve it.

This movie is 10 times better than that major crap called: Twilight. A major thank you to the team that made this movie.

I have been moved by this movie and hope future viewers of this movie will be too. This is the impact that the movie has/had to make and they succeeded very VERY much.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Initial thoughts

Author: jessica (menthapiperita) from Toronto, ON
13 June 2009

I enjoyed the film wholly and while it's been years since I read the original source material, a novel by Philip Pullman originally titled "The White Mercedes," I felt it was a very good adaptation. I must confess that The Butterfly Tattoo/White Mercedes was never a favourite among Pullman's stories (I have very mixed feelings about his contemporary novels in general). In this vein, my complaints with regards to the plot probably echo some of the more negative reviews, although I felt it carried well enough in the film. As a viewer with a vague memory of the original plot and setting, I sometimes found myself trying to remember how characters managed without mobile phones back in the early 90s (this is purely tangential).

Otherwise, I felt the film was one of the better films I've seen this past year. Although the actors were obviously new, they were good, and to my amateur eye, gave very sincere performances. In combination with the beautiful cinematography (I'm glad I was able to see this in widescreen as intended), I gather that was a pretty solid movie on the part of the director Phil Hawkins and the producers. I am even more impressed due to the educational nature of the film project for many of the cast and crew members.

My only major complaint that would prevent me from giving the film a higher rating pertains to the use of flashbacks, especially as employed in the second half of the film. While I have no objection to the use of flashbacks in general, and felt that they were very well employed in the retelling stories of the past, they seemed rather clichéd and unnecessary in the depiction of characters' reflection upon a relationship that had developed over merely days over the course of the film.

Overall a very good film. Congratulations to all those who worked so hard to put it together.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Good film on the whole, with moments of brilliance.

Author: Bellerophon from Virginia
14 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed it. Certainly more than a great many studio films that made big bucks in the box office. Three out of five stars from me on Netflix (can't do fractions). I recall giving only two stars to some Oscar winners.

Pros: The opening scene was beautiful, and the integration of the soundtrack was outstanding throughout. I loved, loved, loved the close-ups of the leading couple. They really tested the actors, who only rarely betrayed their inexperience. I'd buy stock in Jessica Blake if she were selling -- and not just because she's a pretty face. The costumes and design elements were excellent as well.

Cons: The flashbacks. I don't know enough about movie-making to put my finger on anything in particular, but they just seemed like TV kitsch to me. I don't have a problem with using them as a plot device. I just didn't like the way these were shot/edited. They compare poorly with similar ones from another adaptation, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Mixed: The script. I'm not sure how faithful the screenplay was to the book because I haven't read it, but the dialogue was awkward sometimes (although the actors covered well for the most part) and the ending wasn't as inspired as the introduction. Show me humanity to close, not a landscape. This one reminded me of the ending to the theatrical cut of Blade Runner.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

a sympathetic and surprisingly good movie

Author: johannes2000-1 from Netherlands
2 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is obviously a "small" movie, with a very limited budget and mainly non-professional or unknown actors. In view of this, it's absolutely a fine and impressive achievement: it has an involving story that evolves itself like a miniature Greek tragedy, a fast pace, a solid musical score, surprisingly beautiful photography and equally surprising fine performances by the two young protagonists.

On the other hand, the whole project impressed me as trying a little bit too hard, as a tiny bit too ambitious. I learned from this site that the novel that this movie is based on, is apparently well known, but I didn't read it and I have to judge the movie on what I saw. I rather thought that the story (or at least the script) was over-crowded with "issues", that evidently cannot, in those scarce one and a half hour, all of them get the attention and development that they deserved. To begin with, there's the coming-of-age and the love-story, that in my opinion both fared the best by getting enough space. But then there also was a rich versus poor issue, sexual harassment (by the obnoxious student and more or less also by Jenny's employer), a divorced parents issue (Chris), and incest and running away from home (Jenny). And as if that's not enough, there was the storyline of Chris's boss being involved in a complicated (and apparently failed) witness protection program, while being chased and threatened by an avenging murderer. And to boot all that, we had to deal with this ill-fated young love that ended, through all kinds of misunderstandings, in a tragic accidental death.

Now don't get me wrong: all of this was dealt with in a very sincere and at times even impressive way, but the result was like a patchwork of what easily could have filled three movies or a mini-series. All these issues were now cramped together and many of them only touched the surface or just fell flat, by want of space and time. To illustrate my meaning: in one of the final minutes of the movie Chris delivers a little note that Jenny wrote to her mother. We never before met this mother, what's more: Jenny never even mentioned her. The fact that this scene is used in the conclusion of the movie makes it heavy with meaning, as if Chris in a way is delivering Jenny's last will and with that the movies raison d'etre. But when we read (hear) the contents of this note, it sounds surprisingly superficial: Jenny just tells her mother how lucky she is with her new boyfriend. Her mother starts crying while we see Chris cycling off and that's the end of the scene. To me this felt like a missed opportunity, an idea (like many other in this movie) that was well-meant, but just didn't got the time to develop into something more then a beautiful picture. Like this, there were more of these moments that had deserved more depth and development.

But all in all the many positive feelings outweighed by far the few negative. The movie stayed in my mind for a long time. As I said before, Duncan Stuart and Jessica Blake were equally convincing in their portrayals of Chris and Jenny (helped of course by a good direction), and of these two I was particularly impressed by young Stuart, who has a great screen-presence and a very natural and at the same time mature way of acting. I saw in his filmography that this movie was his only project until now. It definitely should be the start of a fine career.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A genuine, heart-wrenching story

Author: JarfGartz from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
15 June 2009

This movie was very well put together. The characters came across with sincerity, delivered very well by (what appear to be) new actors.

I couldn't help but imagine this sort of story coming together, whether by terrible coincidence or by a nasty twist of fate - and it was truly a sad thing to envision.

I found the pace to be as expected for this sort of film, with plenty of time to understand the characters, and a healthy dose of dialog-free scenes full of introspection and character growth. I also really enjoyed the fact that the director respected his audience and didn't spell things out for his viewers.

Now, this is not a film I would recommend to most of my guy friends, as there is very little action and it is, after all, a love story - but I know the ladies would enjoy it thoroughly.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Art School Film

Author: Kenny Buchholz from Midlothian, VA, US
7 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Maybe Phillip Pullman's novel is better, for my own sake and consideration of Pullman, I sincerely hope so.

But this movie is not particularly great. I really wanted to like it. It has the flavor of an Indie film, and I was hoping it would be a great Indie film. But it isn't.

The swirling thematic presence of Romeo and Juliet lays out a fairly straight plot line, so if You are looking for surprises, You are bound to be disappointed.

All the technical elements (acting, cinematography, etc) are well within acceptable limits, it just doesn't deliver a very profound experience.

I can see how some people might LOVE this film, but I think that they must be reaching and wanting to like it so much that they have convinced themselves it is really much better than it is.

It isn't a BAD film, and maybe my mediocre score is simply because I wanted to like it so much more than I did. It isn't a waste of time, but nor is it one that You walk away NEEDING to talk about, or even remember for that matter!

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A very good surprise

Author: fromelh from France
2 July 2009

I'll keep it short.

It's been a long time since I've been moved like that by a movie.

Maybe because I identified a lot with Chris, but still the story is compelling, true to the heart. The relationship between Chris and Jenny doesn't seem fake, every time I was expecting a cliché it sidestepped a little. The ending may be obvious to some, but it's not what makes a good drama.

Jessica Blake's a real treat, and I hope to see more of her in the future. I quite liked the director's work too. Lingering frames, gorgeous photography.

A well recommended movie.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: billcr12 from United States
18 July 2012

The Butterfly Tattoo is just another teen romance; nothing special to look out for. Chris is a smart 17 year old boy working at a summer job, when he meets the easy going Jenny. They seem like the perfect couple, but a series of flashbacks prove otherwise.

The pair are both very shy and so the relationship develops slowly. Chris discovers his boss's underworld connections and the film takes a strange turn into a crime mystery. Meanwhile, Jenny is trying to put behind a previous boyfriend, Piers, who is determined to destroy her new found happiness with Chris. The actors are competent but I found the soundtrack annoying, and I was underwhelmed.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good actors

Author: Kellie Stewart from United States
29 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This story was well acted, it was just not a story worth acting. The people you should be sympathetic toward end up making so many stupid choices that it's difficult to have sympathy for them. This could be called a modern day Romeo and Juliet, but there were no families involved, just two people from different walks of life that come together and fall in love, if you can call their brief time together love. Their relationship was sweet to watch come together, but you don't get involved with someone and let them know so little about you that they can't locate you and think that you have abandoned them along with other poor assumptions. The only person I felt sorry for was Barry. He seemed like a person with his heart in the right place that had turned his life around and was thankful for it. This movie dragged things out for too long and made the boy seem like a complete moron that acted before he thought anything through. Love does odd things to us, but this boy apparently lost all logic and reason over not being able to find someone. I found this movie disappointing. I did not think it was heartwarming and came away more irritated than anything else.

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