By Adam Ray Palmer
The beauty of the Berlinale is having access to the more independent and passion projects from around the world… allow me to introduce Rafael Kapelinski’s Butterfly Kisses.
This is Rafael Kapelinski feature film debut and stars the young talents including Theo Stevenson, Rosie Day, Thomas Turgoose, Liam Whiting and Byron Lyons.
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Butterfly Kisses follows Jake (Theo Stevenson) and his two best friends, Kyle (Liam Whiting) and Jarred (Byron Lyons) through a world distorted by sex and porn. Kyle talks about girls non-stop and Jarred cheats on his girlfriend non-stop; but Jake is different. All three are trying to find their way in a complex world. They all have their demons, but Jake’s secret is one that he must keep to himself.
At first glance, Butterfly Kisses seems an arty, coming-of-age drama with the odd scenes of comedy. However, Kapelinski delves a lot deeper than just the ‘laddy banter’ on the surface. The groups jesting is great to settle us in, but the dark exterior that Jake’s character gives off lets the audience know that there’s more to this narrative than losing virginities.
Theo Stevenson’s character, Jake, is a lot more complex than meets the eye. He’s more layered compared to his friends and that’s confirmed when we know he is hiding something. There’s a scene in his bedroom where Jarred and Kyle joke they know his ‘secret’ from looking at his internet history, it turns out that they searched what porn he looks at. This is the point in the film where Rafael core message of humans being complex and fragile is declared. The protagonists around Jake are used as sub-plots to show just how hard it is to know people 100%.
Due to a past experience of director Rafael Kapelinski involving a suicide incident with one of his old teachers, he wanted to explore the complexity of a person’s character and about what people know up front and what goes on behind closed doors. With Butterfly Kisses, Rafael Kapelinski certainly scrutinizes the subject matter.
I think the use of greyscale instead of colour accompanies the human complexity theme. Perhaps it’s irony that not everything is always black and white, but it could always be purely down to style. I like to think it is the former, and therefore gives the movie a deeper meaning that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
The soundtrack is another positive for me. It’s minimalistic but used in the right places. There’s one piece of music that is very reminiscent of the book shelf scene in Interstellar and it gives the ‘BK’ sequence more depth – just by using tense and thought-provoking melodies.
Overall, Butterfly Kisses is an ambitious, indie movie that takes on a subject matter that occurs in a difficult period of Jake’s adolescent life. Butterfly Kisses focuses on the defining years of a human being and it confirms just how complicated we all are as individuals. I’d certainly recommend you catch this.
Cineroom’s rating: 3.5 Stars
Butterfly Kisses received its world premiere at the 67th Berlinale on 11th February 2017 – certificate TBC