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Black Butterfly (2017) - Plot Summary Poster

(II) (2017)

Plot

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Summaries

  • Outside a mountain town grappling with a series of abductions and murders, Paul (Antonio Banderas), a reclusive writer, struggles to start what he hopes will be a career-saving screenplay. After a tense encounter at a diner with a drifter named Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Paul offers Jack a place to stay-and soon the edgy, demanding Jack muscles his way into Paul's work and the two men begin a jagged game of one-upmanship that will bring at least one tale to an end.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Paul Lopez (Antonio Banderas) is an alcoholic screenwriter suffering from writer's block. His realty Laura (Piper Perabo) arrives with the Owens couple to show Paul's house to them as his home is put on sale due to Paul being broke. Paul asks to meet her at a diner later before he leaves to go hunting. On the way there, he learns from a phone call that his script cannot be submitted in its current form. Out of frustration, Paul gets into an altercation with a truck driver who does not easily yield room for him to pass in his truck.

    Paul later meets Laura at a diner where news is being broadcast about the "Roadside Killer" and she tells him that the Owens are not interested in the house. Laura is interested in his work as a writer but he says that he has not written in a long time and asks her about her work as a realty. She admits that he is her first "victim" when the truck driver arrives. Paul and Laura make a dinner date before she leaves for another appointment. The driver, upset about a friend who was killed after being driven off a road, threatens at Paul before he attacks him but is stopped and thrown out of the diner by another customer named Jack (Jonathan Rhys Myers).

    Back on the road, Paul spots Jack hitchhiking and he picks Jack up and invites him to stay the night in the guestroom of his house. One day Paul explains that his phone connection is out from a storm and there is no internet access at his house, he then tells Jack his history as a writer. Jack asks to read one of Paul's scripts and Paul gives him an unsold script called Under the Clock. Paul notices Jack's tattoo while he is swimming in an artificial pond near the house and Jack explains that it is a prison tattoo of a black butterfly, which is very rare and very hard to catch. Jack convinces Paul to quit drinking alcohol and write a script based on Paul's real life as a briefly successful writer who has become a reclusive alcoholic.

    Jack later reads the first draft without Paul's consent and, unsatisfied, throws it into the fire, proposing a more elaborate background story for the character of "Jack" as a person working in collusion with the truck driver. That night Jack sneaks into Paul's room and puts a knife to his throat to show him that, unlike the girl pleading with her attacker in his script, in reality the victim does not speak a word in such a situation. While Jack is chopping wood the next morning, Paul looks through old newspaper clippings and evidence he has collected about young women's disappearances but quickly hides it again when Jack walks in. Later while working on the script, Paul hears a gunshot including a woman's scream and goes outside to investigate but Jack indicates that it was a bird screeching due to the gunshot.

    When a delivery man arrives with some goods from Pat's general store, Jack points a loaded shotgun at Paul and tells him not to walk too far. Once Paul gets rid of the delivery man, he argues with Jack about his twisted conduct. Attempting to leave. Paul ends up punching Jack but is wrestled to the ground and taken prisoner in his own home by Jack, who explains that he is paranoid since he just got out of prison and never wants to go back. That night Paul sneaks out for drink but is stopped by Jack who then forces him to smash all the bottles against the wall, insisting that he is helping him. Paul takes a drink from the last bottle before smashing it. Later in the night, Paul has difficulties writing due to Jack terrorizing him.

    Laura later arrives on a foggy morning asking why Paul hasn't answered her calls for days. At that moment, Paul rushes to her and tells her to give him the keys to her car so that they can escape Jack. Halfway down the road to his house, Jack walks out in front of them and shoots at the car with a rifle. Jack then forces them to push the car into the water and come back to the house. Soon a sheriff arrives looking for a missing girl who was supposed to have been delivering a package. Paul says that he hasn't seen the girl but attempts to scream out a message, causing Jack to run out and shoot the sheriff at point blank. Paul locks him out of the house and barricades the windows to protect himself and Laura. When Jack pretends to drive the sheriff's car away, they attempt to run through the woods to catch the half-hourly train but Laura trips over a log and Jack catches them.

    That night Jack insists that Paul has not been loyal to their agreement. Laura, surprisingly, stabs Jack in the back with a pair of sewing scissors she has found upstairs while Paul grabs the rifle but Jack says he is not brave enough to shoot and wrestles the rifle back from him, then takes Laura into the study and ties Paul to a chair using duct tape. Paul breaks a picture off the wall and uses the broken glass to cut himself free from the chair, grab the rifle and enters the study. Finding Laura being threatened, he explains to Jack that he understands what it is like to "kill" and believes Jack has been sent by God as providence so that Paul will kill him and blame the killings on the Roadside Killer on him. Paul puts on a pair of rubber gloves and shoots at Jack but finds out the bullets have been replaced with blanks and Jack grabs the rifle from Paul and knocks him unconscious.

    Paul wakes up in the morning and finds a group of FBI agents searching his house and sees the sheriff, who is uninjured. Paul also encounters the truck driver from the diner, Laura, and Jack, all wearing FBI badges. Jack explains that they have been "tracking" him for three years and plays a recording of Paul's explanation of what it is like to kill from the previous night. Paul complains that any evidence collected from his house is tainted because Jack and Laura had access to the house and could have planted it and that the tape recording is just his notes for a screenplay. Jack fears that they do not have enough evidence for a conviction when he notices an excavator with dirt on it. Looking through Paul's possessions, he finds a picture of Paul's wife in a yard that shows no artificial pond. Paul is impressed and attempts to make a deal with him to avoid the death penalty and have an ending living with the pain but Jack prefers "his own ending". The film ends with Paul waking up from what appeared to be a dream that happened to be the events of the film, and quickly attempts to type out the dream as a new script entitled Black Butterfly.

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