East End Film Festival: Butterfly Kisses – Review

Butterfly Kisses is directed by Rafael Kapelinski and follows the story of Jake and his two best friends through a world distorted by sex and porn. They all have their own demons, but Jake’s secret is one that he can’t tell anyone. The East End Film Festival is home to many intriguing and exciting films, and Butterfly Kisses is no exception, though sadly it is a little uneven.

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The first thing to notice about this film is just how striking it is to look at; the cinematography is hands down the most captivating thing about this film. The decision to shoot in black and white was a wise one, as it brings a great deal of depth to some of the most important scenes that would perhaps lose a little something if they were presented in colour. It matches the mood of the film, feels consistent with what’s happening and allows you to tap into the mindset of the lead characters.

Kapelinksi has an eye for shots, providing some very enigmatic images over the course of it’s short run time. Just the technical aspects in general are fantastic; a great deal of this film’s effect can be attributed to the sound, or rather, the lack of it. Some of the film’s most emotional and poignant scenes are the ones that have no music, and just understand the impact of real sounds against total silence. It suddenly brings you into a more calming, mesmerised state that allows you to truly feel the essence of the scene. This is done in best in the film’s last half an hour, and is ultimately the most encouraging reason to finish it.

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Where this film is uneven is in it’s screenplay; the film’s premise and pay off is very intriguing, but it’s also kind of hard to get into. Something about the dialogue, mostly in the first hour or so, feels very contrived, and it’s difficult to sink into the film when you can’t quite get the rhythm of what’s going on. And the pacing is affected, not quite bringing the film to a halt but definitely slowing it perhaps a little too much, though that does actually benefit some of the beautiful shots that take place within. And as previously mentioned, the last half an hour of the film does a really great job of bringing it all to a close. Where the script is lacking though, the performances are definitely strong, in particular that of Theo Stevenson as Jake. He brings a lot of power to the role, sinks into it and presents nothing but the character. There’s also come charming turns from Rosie Day and This is England star Thomas Turgoose, but ultimately, the entire cast are great.

So whilst it’s a tad lacking in it’s screenplay and pacing, Butterfly Kisses is a worthy piece of film-making. Great performances all around, and exceptionally put together. If you’ve got a keen eye for stunning cinematography, then this is definitely the film for you, and you can catch it at this year’s East End Film Festival.

Find out more about the East End Film Festival 

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