The Butterfly Tree (M) 9, 11, 12 April

Mature themes, sex scene, nudity and coarse language

Australia 2017
Director and writer: Priscilla Cameron
Featuring: Melissa George, Ewen Leslie, Ed Oxenbould, Sophie Lowe
Running Time: 96 minutes
Original review: Luke Buckmeister, The Guardian
Extracted by: Kim Pridham

Like an angel parachuting into a young boy’s dreams, Evelyn, a radiant, siren-like, moon-eyed florist offers Fin a job helping out in the shop, which he, of course, accepts without equivocation. Fin is mourning the death of his mother in the not-too-distant past. He catches butterflies in her honour and has erected a secret shrine-like place of remembrance in the trunk of a large tree in the woods. Fin’s desperate longing for her, combined with the onset of puberty, makes Evelyn – through no fault of her own – a dangerous combination of maternal and sexual desire.
The child is very much finding himself.

His father, on the other hand, appears to be heading towards a cliff; Al, a schoolteacher is having an affair with one of his students, Shelley. Al attempts to apply the brakes to their relationship, but at the same time, an obsessive Shelley arrives in his office with cock rings and barely disguised blackmail threats. Which is to say: she’s not backing off.

Al too becomes entranced by the blithe florist, forming the third side of a love triangle. At first blush Evelyn appears to be living the life of Riley, smoking reefers and gliding around her shop on rollerskates, posing for pictures taken using a retro wind-up camera. But there is a sadness in her eyes, and a DuBios-esque delicacy in her swagger and temperament, suggesting deep wounds and a troubled private life.

The Butterfly Tree is ultimately about what happens when an illusion is pricked. And the only person capable of saving you is yourself. A self-rescue can only extend so far – certainly no further, as the final act unsubtly suggests, than the boundaries of time or the limitations of the body.

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