Evelyn, a burlesque queen, bewitches single dad Al and his teenage son, Fin with her zest for life.
When father and son discover they are competing for the affections of the same woman, old wounds are reopened over the death of Fin’s mother. Through the vivacious Evelyn, Fin learns the power of forgiveness and relinquishes his goddess in return for a family.
In this seductive and heart-warming story, both men will discover the power of selfless love.
This story was inspired by a special person whom I lost to breast cancer. I had already started writing the script when she was diagnosed. Whilst getting to know her and falling in love with her, on an emotional / spiritual level, I was also physically losing her in exactly the same increments. In this intense period of time I got to know this fabulous woman who was also human with her own fragility and failings and I witnessed a family sacrifice their own wants and needs for the sake of someone they dearly loved.
This became the heart of The Butterfly Tree in which Fin learns to put the needs of those he loves before his own, relinquishing ‘goddess’ Evelyn to his father. While still a sexual coming of age story my intention was for Fin’s attraction to Evelyn to go beyond simple teenage desire – it needed to exist in a more spiritual realm where he falls in love with the fantastical essence of her and her world. When Fin does enter Evelyn’s physical world (her flower shop and glass house) he feels as though he has entered one of his own private butterfly fantasies in which he rediscovers the touch of his dead Mother. The combination of a mother figure and a sensual goddess who shares his same definition of beauty is a powerful lure and one he fights fiercely to protect against the human, raw and messy failings of his father, Al, who has been dealing with the loss of his wife by screwing his students.
Evelyn, like Al, outside her and Fin’s fantastical world, is also dealing with her own vulnerabilities – breast cancer and a past abusive marriage – and being with Fin allows her the opportunity to inhabit the present and play again. However, it is an adult she needs to ‘hold’ in her time of need and Fin slowly realises this. Conversely as Evelyn faces her own mortality she recognises Fin’s need to reconnect with his father and encourages Fin to make peace, which he does. In the final act Fin is able to let go of the loss of his mother and forgive his father for her death.
One of the film’s great cinematic strengths is that most of it resides in a sensual, beautiful, slightly hyper real realm where Fin and Evelyn’s special relationship transports the viewer into their shared definition of beauty. Outside this world - the real world - while not quite as fantastical, still crackles with richness and humour, particularly the interplay between Al and his current student Shelley whom is deliciously sexy in all her craziness and vulnerability.
I feel The Butterfly Tree experience will be emotionally seductive and beautifully immersive.
– Priscilla Cameron
Writer / Director