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Butterfly Affect

Critic:

Joe Beck

|

Posted on:

23 Apr 2022

Film Reviews
Butterfly Affect
Directed by:
Edem Wornoo
Written by:
Edem Wornoo
Starring:
Jediael Stiling, Shadrach Agozino, Noah Hicks
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Google defines the butterfly effect as ‘the phenomenon whereby a minute localised change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.’ It’s a theory which has been explored by many philosophers, and many films - namely the 2004 film ‘The Butterfly Effect’ starring Ashton Kutcher. Here, in Edem Wornoo’s ‘Butterfly Affect’, the phrase fits both the google definition and also the journey of a butterfly in becoming the beautiful creature everyone knows and loves.

 

Everybody knows the journey of a butterfly from primary school - the caterpillar creates a cocoon and emerges a beautiful butterfly - but not everybody associates the same process with human development. ‘Butterfly Affect’ makes a noble attempt at delving into this compact topic, nailing the caterpillar and butterfly stages, but delivering an unfulfilling and confusing cocoon phase.

The film focuses on Iris (Noah Hicks and later Jediael Stiling), a young ballet dancer on a South London council estate, who has to hide his passions from the people around him, for fear of losing respect. Iris lives a double life - immersing himself in the street culture of South London, and dancing when he’s alone. He reluctantly smokes, he pretends to be going out to ‘kick ball’ and he is being pushed towards a path of violence, yet, unbeknownst to everyone but his cousin Prince (Shadrach Agozino) he dances in front of his pet butterfly.

 

Prince is at least somewhat supportive at the beginning, telling Iris ‘do your ting bro’, but then abruptly tells him that he can’t be dancing if he wants to keep face. This is indicative of much of the adversity which Iris faces, and it all builds up into a couple of outbursts of anger - one violent, the other non-violent. What’s strange is that in the cocoon stage Iris turns into someone unrecognisable - committing an unforgivable act which makes it extremely difficult to come back and like the character.

 

Nevertheless, 'Butterfly Affect' is powerful, sending a clear message of acceptance, and that people should be able to enjoy whatever they like. Director Edem Wornoo is clear in this messaging, and tells it well - incorporating it beautifully into a story which could have easily been utterly soulless. At times, Iris does resemble a buttery, with beautiful shots of him dancing in his room, the camera gliding over his posture and technique and inviting you to sit back and applaud.

 

The actors all are terrific, with Noah Hicks playing the young Iris with a tenderness in his youth, but with a roaring lion wanting to burst out, whether that be through dance or violence. When the baton is handed over to Jediael Stiling to play the older Iris, he maintains that tenderness, but adds a layer of strength to the tenderness to suggest that Iris has been through something traumatic and come out the other side a more mature man.

 

'Butterfly Affect' is a beautiful story of overcoming a form of adversity to become the person that you want to be. It slightly loses itself in the middle, but is nevertheless affecting in its messaging, and it's tenderness makes it all the more heartwarming.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film