DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
BUTTERFLY KISS (director: Michael Winterbottom; screenwriter: Frank Cottrell Boyce; cinematographer: Seamus McGarvey; editor: Trevor Waite; Cast: Amanda Plummer (Eunice), Saskia Reeves (Miriam), Des McAleer (Eric), Kathy Jamieson (Wendy), Ricky Tomlinson (Robert), Lisa Jane Riley (Danielle); Runtime: 88; CFP Distribution; 1995-UK)

 
"A strange little tale from England about a weirdo homicidal drifter."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A strange little tale from England about a weirdo homicidal drifter, Eunice (Amanda Plummer), who is first seen barging into a service-station rest stop and asking the girl behind the counter, "Are you Judith?" Then she hums a tune while asking, "Do you have this record?" She is moving nervously about in constant motion, hopping from foot to foot,  before she kills the girl who is behind the counter for no apparent reason.

Amanda meets a naive girl in one of the petrol stations who is attracted to her, Miriam (Saskia Reeves). Saskia gives an understated performance in contrast to the energetic Amanda's. She is the narrator and narrates in a matter-of-fact casual voice from behind prison bars, as seen in a black-and-white videotape. She tells how Amanda captivated her and how she chose to run away with her and form a lesbian relationship, getting involved in a string of murders.

When Amanda runs out of Miriam's petrol station and douses herself with gas, Miriam runs out to comfort her and Amanda gives her a big kiss. From then on the dimwitted, hard-of-hearing, psychologically impaired, meek, young girl becomes a follower of the sociopath Amanda. She brings her home to meet her homebound invalid mother, who despotically demands constant care from her. At one point the sweet talking Miriam declares, "Mother, Auntie Kathy, a girl at swimming--and Eunice, those are all the people who have kissed me." After one night in bed with Amanda, she is willing to run away with her, thinking that this is her one chance at finding happiness from her dull existence.

This is a pointless, violent, road movie about two very sick girls who are not explained or studied, but are just shown to be on a reckless course of destruction. Amanda with an urge to kill and be punished for it, is supposedly looking for her ex-lover named Judy. But Judy might also be viewed as a figment of her warped mind, or perhaps she represents someone from the Bible like the avenger named Judith who beheaded an enemy of the Israelites. Amanda says, "I'm bad, I won't change. Punishment is all I understand." While Miriam is a lost soul, having no sense of who she is, armed only with a very low opinion of herself. She tries to please Amanda by cleaning up after her murders and traveling with her aimlessly across England's northern seacoast, getting involved with a number of repelling roadside crimes. It is not possible to make sense of how these girls relate to each other and how brutally they act.

The film is mainly interesting because of Amanda Plummer's devilish performance, where she needs to be hurt in order to feel that God loves her. She is a hard-edged psychopath, wracked with an unbelievable amount of pain. She only takes pleasure when she unbuttons her blouse to show off her lean body which is covered with bruises and 17 tattoos, each with a personal meaning. Amanda is also wrapped in chains and has her nipples pierced and linked with nipple clamp attachments strung across her chest. This armament causes her to clank whenever she moves. The depravity and depth of alienation Amanda Plummer evokes from her character makes this a fascinating film, if you can ever get past the bleakness of the story.

REVIEWED ON 6/30/2000     GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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