Black Butterfly is a movie acquired by LionsGate some time ago, a remake of the French TV movie Papillon Noir, a 2008 movie that actually starred Eric Cantona. In this U.S.-set remake, Brian Goodman (one of those acting ‘faces you know’) comes in as a support actor but also to try his hand at directing for the first time since 2008’s What Doesn’t Kill You. He has also recruited Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and a few different types of shotguns, but is the Marc Frydman/Justin Stanley script too ambitious for its own good?
Down on his luck screenwriter Paul (Antonio Banderas) can’t seem to catch a break; his marriage is done, he can no longer afford the property he used for solitary writing, he has a drinking problem and worse, a road rage incident puts him in danger of getting a beating at a diner. He is saved mysterious ex-con Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and to show gratitude, Paul offers Jack a free room for the night at his soon to be sold cabin. As it turns out, Jack is a bit of a nut, and Paul can’t get rid of him. Fists start flying and guns are pulled out of cabinets.
Although I haven’t seen the original (I’m sure Cantona did well there, what a great turn his career took), I couldn’t help but be reminded of Rob Reiner’s Stephen King adaptation Misery, starring James Caan. A writer is bailed out of a bad situation by a nut who is a bit too keen on seeing him reach his creative potential. For the most part, the back/forth tension between Banderas and Meyers is fairly decent, since the movie at first takes its time and runs an effective slow-burn, especially since both actors show up to put work into their performances.
But the third act is a mess and drives the whole affair into mediocre territory. In movies, ‘twists’ are difficult things to pull off, especially if they’re overly ambitious. The twist here is preposterous, illogical, invites gaping plot holes and is almost ruinous. And often when you see big ‘swerves’, you’re simply waiting for the next, which indeed comes. I mean, I can’t say too much about it lest the movie be spoiled, but Black Butterfly essentially writes itself into a corner that it can’t re-emerge from.
This isn’t a bad movie, and actually it’ll be a good one-shot deal for quite a few people. If you liked Misery, you might want to check it out, but be cautious.