An innocent love story between two English teens gets nipped in the bud by an ugly and rather generic tale of revenge in “The Butterfly Tattoo.” Low-budget adaptation of a contempo novel by “Golden Compass” scribe Philip Pullman was produced by a Dutch outfit that sold shares in the production to raise money, but is otherwise a strictly British affair. Helmer Phil Hawkins and young thesps get the awkward first moments of infatuation just right, but the screenplay’s limping second half may hamper theatrical prospects. Ancillary looms.Angelic 17-year-old Chris (Duncan Stuart) and lovely Manchester lass Jenny (Jessica Blake) meet cute at an Oxford college ball. She’s on the run from her “very ex,” aristocratic bastard Piers (Dan Morgan). Chris works for the lighting company of Barry (Aidan Magrath), whose friendly demeanor hides a few dark secrets. Though cliched, Chris and Jenny’s courtship is sweet and involving, but the decision to gradually reveal the truth about Chris’ past in flashbacks that reconfigure his backstory each time is trite. Blake doesn’t have enough screen presence to compensate for her weak characterization; other thesps are low-key but believable.
A Dynamic Entertainment presentation and production. (International sales: Dynamic Entertainment, Utrecht, Netherlands.) Produced by Rik Visser, Wesley Kloppenburg, Jolies van Emburg. Directed, edited by Phil Hawkins. Screenplay, Stephen Potts, based on the novel "The Butterfly Tattoo" by Philip Pullman.
Camera (color, HD), Michael Costelloe; music, Ludovico Einaudi; production designer, Gareth Thomas; costume designer, Geri Spencer. Reviewed at Netherlands Film Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands, Sept. 27, 2008. English dialogue. Running time: 101 MIN.
Duncan Stuart, Jessica Blake, Aidan Magrath, Dan Morgan, Christopher Dane.