Analysis of the film Black Butterfly (2017): was Banderas character a maniac. Plot analysis, explanation of the ending, the meaning of the film with Banderas.
Country: Spain, USA, Italy
Year of production: 2017
Director: Brian Goodman
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Piper Perabo, Vincent Riotta, Brian Goodman
tagline: “A killer story with a twist”
Awards and Nominations: Madrid International Film Festival: Won Best Actor (Antonio Banderas), Nominated Best Supporting Actor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers)
Brian Goodman’s second film is a remake of the French thriller Moth of the Night, released in 2008. This is a story about a writer who invited a random tramp to his house and about the events that resulted from this act. The point of the movie “Black Butterfly” is that one should not blindly trust people, especially strangers, because the first impression is often deceptive.
What is the movie about
A detailed analysis of the plot will help to understand the essence of the film Black Butterfly.
The main character is Paul Lopez (Antonio Banderas), a famous writer in the past. His business is going badly, no one is interested in books and scripts, finances are running out. In the first scene of the film, he tries to write, but he has no ideas, so he aimlessly types the phrase “I’m stuck” over and over on the typewriter, leans back on the couch and thinks.
The role of Paul Lopez was played by Antonio Banderas. Frame from the film.
In the next scene, a young family is relaxing in nature. The wife goes to the car, the husband and young son are delayed. When they arrive at the transport, they find that the woman has disappeared.
A car pulls up to Paul’s house. In it, Laura (Piper Perabo), a real estate agent and potential buyers (due to lack of funds, the writer sells the house). Paul invites the girl to dinner and leaves on business.
Paul drinks while driving (the hidden meaning of the scene is to show that he has a drinking problem), and then pulls up to the store. Inside, the radio announces another kidnapped woman. The writer asks for the goods on the list and agrees on a deferred payment. He then speaks to an agent who says the script was rejected and asks for revisions. Paul goes to a cafe to meet Laura and gets into a fight with a truck driver along the way.
At the cafe, Laura says that the customers have refused to buy the house because they don’t see the point in doing it for themselves: it’s far from the city and needs to be renovated. Paul admits that he has not written anything worthwhile for a long time, Laura says that she has just started working, and Paul is her first client. Lopez invites the girl to dinner.
A truck pulls up, which Paul overtook along the way. The driver enters the cafe, sees the writer and arranges a quarrel, but the conflict is stopped by a stranger, who escorts the instigator out the door. Paul tries to thank the savior, but he ignores him.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Jack. Frame from the film.
On the way home, Paul sees a stranger from a cafe walking along the side of the road and offers a ride. The guy’s name is Jack, he’s a tramp. Paul, in gratitude, invites him to spend the night at his place, because they promise bad weather. Jack agrees.
Paul brings Jack home and shows him a spare room, then goes to his room, drinks alcohol and falls asleep. Waking up, he finds that the guy has put things in order in the kitchen and is cooking something. Over breakfast, Jack aggressively offers to help Paul renovate the house. The writer reluctantly agrees. While working in the tool shed, Jack finds Paul’s weapon.
Paul tells Jack about his job and complains about the lack of internet and connection due to the past hurricane. Jack remarks that this is a good thing because writers need privacy. Lopez replies that his problem is procrastination and explains how he became famous, and then lost everything – money, fame, wife.
In the morning Jack bathes in the lake near the house. Paul notices that he has a black butterfly tattoo on his back. The guy explains that this is a rare species of insect that is difficult to catch, and reveals that he had it impaled in prison. Jack suggests Paul stop drinking, as his problem is alcohol. He then explains to Lopez that he needs a good idea for his script and advises him to write the story of their acquaintance. He retells the events known to Paul, and then offers to come up with a sequel, but approach it responsibly.
The role of Laura was played by Piper Perabo. Frame from the film.
Paul writes the script, but Jack criticizes it, explaining that Paul’s writing is too corny. Jack is depicted as a simple guy from a cafe, but the point is that Paul does not know who he really is. The tramp could be in cahoots with the truck driver, and the whole situation, from the conflict on the road to the invitation to stay with the writer, was pre-planned. Paul likes what he hears, except for the end of the story. He says he has more interesting developments.
During the night, Paul wakes up to Jack holding a knife to his throat. The guy explains that he wanted to help the writer understand how a person feels in such a situation, because this will allow him to more accurately describe the feelings of the characters.
In the morning, while Jack is in the yard, Paul searches his backpack. In it, he finds newspaper clippings describing the abduction of women and a set of medical instruments. The guy enters the house and Paul quickly puts things back in place. However, Jack, returning to the room, realizes that his backpack was touched by an outsider.
Paul hears a woman scream outside. He goes out, finds Jack with a gun in his hands and asks if he heard anything. The guy answers in the negative.
A courier arrives with groceries. Paul is about to open the door, but Jack, at gunpoint, warns him not to stray far from the house. The writer picks up the groceries. Angry, Paul tries to drive or leave, but Jack stops him. A fight ensues, Paul is beaten. Jack explains that he gets nervous when he sees strangers because he just got out of prison and has no intention of returning to it. He claims that Paul is trying to break the agreement by which he must write their story and is doing everything not to work. At night, Paul tries to escape, but Jack stops the man and then forces him to break all the bottles of alcohol.
Frame from the film.
Laura arrives in the morning. Paul tries to run away with her, but Jack stops them and forces them to drown the car in the pond. The local sheriff of Carcano arrives and asks if Paul has seen the kidnapped girl. The writer, under Jack’s gunpoint, replies in the negative. Carcano is about to leave, but Paul jumps out and asks for help. Jack kills the sheriff. The writer and Laura manage to barricade themselves in the house. Hearing Jack walking on the roof, they jump out and try to run into the woods, but Jack catches up with them.
Jack claims that Paul set him up without honoring the deal. In addition, it is Paul who is to blame for the fact that the girl is with them, and the sheriff is killed. The writer asks why Jack stays in the house if there will be a lot of policemen here soon, which means he will go to jail. To this, the guy replies that he is now writing their story himself, which means that he will also come up with its ending.
Laura and Paul try to escape, but Jack stops them. He beats the girl and ties Paul up in the bedroom. The writer frees himself, finds a gun, goes to Jack and sees Laura dead. Jack offers to dispose of the body and evidence and escape before the police arrive. Paul replies that he will be waiting for her, because this whole situation is a sign from above.
The writer says that earlier he also saw the signs that providence gave him, and abducted women. The appearance of Jack is an opportunity to accuse him of the murders and go unpunished. Paul says that when he saw the guy, he immediately realized that he needed to lure him to him. Telling this, he takes out the personal belongings of the murdered women from the cache and puts them in Jack’s backpack, after which he shoots the guy. The cartridges are empty. Jack hits Paul, the man passes out.
At the end of the movie Black Butterfly, Paul wakes up to find that there are many FBI employees working in the house, Jack is one of them. It turns out that the murder of the sheriff and the attack of the truck driver (FBI agent) were staged. Laura also turns out to be an employee of the special services.
Jack is talking to Paul. From his explanation, it becomes known that the criminal was searched for three years. He shows evidence – personal items that the writer slipped him, and a voice recorder with a recording of Lopez’s speech, talking about his plan. It was not possible to find only the body of Rene – Paul’s wife and his first victim, so Jack invites the man to tell where she is buried.
Paul replies that he did not kill anyone and offers his interpretation of what happened. The evidence was planted on him, and Jack made an audio recording when Paul read a monologue of one of the characters. In addition, Jack held him hostage and threatened him with a weapon, so out of fear he could say anything.
Jack goes outside and looks around as he thinks. Looking at the pond, he remembers a photograph of Paul’s wife, in which there was no pond. He returns to the house and suggests that the body is buried under the pond. The writer replies that Jack has found a clue, so now the advantage is on his side.
Paul promises to help and tell about the crimes, but asks to be sentenced not to death, but to imprisonment. The point is that he repents and wants to spend the rest of his life thinking about what he did. Jack replies that he gave Paul a chance for a sincere confession, but that he did not take advantage of it and did not want to come up with a good ending to their story. Now Jack will decide what the ending will be.
Frame from the film.
The final scene takes you back to the beginning of the movie. Paul wakes up on the couch, looks around and sees in the typewriter a piece of paper with the phrase: “I’m stuck”, written many times. He takes a blank sheet and prints the name: “Black Butterfly”.
The meaning of the Black Butterfly ending is that Paul had a dream about the story. He did not commit murders, there was no investigation. The dream impresses him so much that he decides to reveal its content in a book.
The meaning of the film Black Butterfly
The title of the thriller “Black Butterfly” encodes the title of the book that Paul begins to write in the finale, and Jack’s tattoo. The latter has several meanings. Firstly, in a number of countries it is believed that black butterflies are harbingers of troubles and misfortunes. Secondly, according to Jack, this type of insect is very rare and difficult to detect: perhaps this is an allusion to a criminal who kills women and has not yet been caught.
In the thriller “Black Butterfly” there is no hidden meaning, the moral in it lies on the surface: do not be too gullible, people are often not what they seem. When the main characters drop their masks, the good-natured aging writer turns out to be a murderer who kidnaps women, and the criminal is an FBI agent.
Hiding their names and identities in the “Black Butterfly” and other characters: the courier from the store, the truck driver, Laura. All these people are not who they say they are, and they play their roles so convincingly that the criminal falls for their bait and is exposed.
Another explanation for the ending and meaning of the Black Butterfly thriller is related to the first and last scenes of the film. In the first minutes, Paul experiences difficulties: he does not know what to write about. At the end, it is shown that he dreamed of “a murderous story with an unexpected twist” (the slogan of the picture). It is so impressive that the writer decides to set out the dream in a book. There is a theory that the director further touched on the issue of creativity and showed how one can struggle with ideas for new works and how they end up coming out of nowhere. This version is not very popular and unlikely, but it has the right to life, like any other interpretation of the finale.
Frame from the film.
- “Night Butterfly” (France, 2008). A tramp wanders into a screenwriter living in seclusion. Lacking live communication, the host leaves the guest to live for a couple of days.
- “Secret Window” (USA, 2004). A stranger comes to a writer living alone and accuses him of plagiarism.
- Misery (USA, 1990). The writer crashes in the mountains in a car during a snowfall. Waking up, he discovers that he is in the house of a fan who does not want to part with his idol at all.