Provocative, unsettling, yet darkly comic, Butterfly Kiss was the startling debut of director Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, 24 Hour Party People), which received rave reviews on its release, and witnessed a great turn by Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction) and Saskia Reeves (Red Riding).
Plummer plays Eunice, a flame-haired drifter who literally wanders into the life of motorway station attendant Miriam (Reeves), changing her life forever. You see Eunice, who has a habit of spouting profane thoughts as though she was reciting Shakespeare – albeit in a gravely, squeaky northern accent – is a sociopath with a penchant for murder.
Miriam, partially deaf, living a drab ghost-like existence with her ailing mother on an estate beside the lifeless A6 motorway, is immediately drawn to Eunice, the free spirit. But theirs is a relationship that is destined to end in tragedy. And we know this as the film is told in flashback, with Miriam giving a police interview.
From the minute Eunice and Miriam meet you see a connection: they’re both mad in their own way. When Eunice pours petrol over herself, Miriam goes to help her and they end up kissing. Any normal person would have called the police.
Miriam then invites Eunice to stay with her and her grandmother, and doesn’t blink an eye when Miriam takes control of the house, turfing poor old grand out of her bed and into the small room so the new lovers can have their privacy. But is this true love or a master/servant relationship in the making?
Eunice is the eternal pessimist. A contradiction bound in chains, piercing and 17 tattoos (each with a different meaning). Like some desert prophet she spouts words of wisdom, then knocks it on the head with a contradiction. Yes, finding someone to love you maybe the most important thing in the world, but Eunice believes people end up killing someone in the end, even if it is themselves. And killing is what Eunice does best.
On the pretext of hunting down a mysterious woman called Judith, Eunice has been leaving a trail of corpses in her motorway wanderings. When Miriam discovers a dead body in a stolen van, instead of running for the hills, she becomes Eunice’s willing accomplice, so taken in is she by her new friend.
What follows is a comedy – of sorts – a disturbing drama, and a road movie which gets very bumpy, especially for Ricky Tomlinson’s Lancashire truck driver, accompanied by a soundtrack that is totally suited to a visit to a typical British service station.
Butterfly Kiss is a very British Psycho that gets a well-deserved Second Sight DVD release.
Released 7 September