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Published on June 20th, 2008 | by simeon


The Butterfly Effect

For most people, childhood is a time filled mainly with happy memories of carefree playing, a loving family, and counting the days until the next school vacation.
Sadly, not everyone has fond memories of their childhood as for some; the years of joy and laughter are filled with pain and sadness. Such is the case of Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) a gifted and caring individual who suffers from memory lapses much like his institutionalized father before him.

A series of traumatic events occur forcing Evan and his mother to move from their home leaving his best friends Kayleigh and Lenny behind.

Years later Evan is a successful and popular student at the state college and has not had a blackout for seven years, which is about the time his mother, moved him from the old neighborhood. Evan is persuaded by a friend to read his old journal entries and in doing so starts to recover some of his lost memories.

With the understanding that he has blacked out traumatic events in his life, Evan returns to his old home to seek out his friends with the hope that his missing memories can be restored. Sadly Evans return does not go well and his questions cause consequences for those who can remember what exactly happened.

Desperate to make sense of what is happening, Evan studies his journals and discovers that he is able to travel back to the time he has blacked out, and proceeds to make changes that he believes will improve the long-term outcome.

Evan awakens to find himself with Kayleigh (Amy Smart) and learns that the two of them have been an item ever since his childhood. What at first seems like a dream come true soon sours when Evan realizes that the ripple effects from his changes in the past have affected others around him. Desperate to undo a situation that now threatens him as well, Evan begins a series of trips into his past in an effort to recover his memories and right the wrongs that he is slowly starting to remember. Evan soon finds himself in a situation gone wild as no matter what Evan changes in the past, things are not put right as improving things for one person often makes others suffer as a result of the altered history.

Skillfully written and directed by Eric Bress and J Mackye Gruber The Butterfly Effect is a stunning look into a troubled psyche and a study in the effects of childhood trauma. The film is equally gripping and disturbing and tackles a wide-range of controversial topics. There is no sugar coating to the film as the depths of Evans repressed memories are explored making the film one of the best Dramas in recent memory.

Kutcher is amazing as he handles a difficult and complex role with skill and passion showing that he is capable of so much more than the brain dead beefcake roles he has been cast in previously. Kutcher is the key that makes the film work as the entire film and supporting cast center on him and he pulls it off brilliantly. Strong supporting work by Amy Smart, Ethan Suplee, and Eldon Henson keep the film gripping and tense.

The only issue I had with the film was the ending, which seemed to me like a tacked on Hollywood ending and not in keeping with the tone of the film. That being said, “The Butterfly Effect is a strong film and one that will not easily be forgotten.

4 stars out of 5

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