Childhood secrets and forbidden love run rife in the intoxicating directorial debut from Remy Bennett and Emilie Richard-Froozan.
After the death of a mutual friend, now-grown childhood playmates Pernilla (Bennett) and Patrick (Evan Louison) reunite to drown their sorrows by recapturing their youth through nostalgia, imaginary friends and games of sexual one-up-manship. Initially seeing themselves as close as brother and sister, the pair gradually realize the attraction between each other, battling with their inner demons as their dark, shared past begins to surface.
Driven by constantly watchable performances from Bennett and Louison, Buttercup Bill is an intense apologue of the destructive force of secrecy between friends and lovers. Louison`s portrayal of the scarred and repressed Patrick is both touching and, when needs be, unsettlingly morose in his quest for self destruction though a series of one-night stands. Bennett meanwhile is a strong force of childish confusion and sexual uncertainty. The development of the chemistry between the two is a joy to watch as these young lovers turn from seemingly innocent friends to sexually charged yet ultimately damned paramours.
Beautifully shot and with a wonderful score by Will Bates, Bennett creates a sweaty atmosphere of lust and passion, with a number of well chosen set pieces. From the initial funereal ceremonies, we are relieved to find ourselves in a reassuringly typical Southern country house, softly lit and serenely surrounded, before being disjointedly thrust into the seediness of a strip club, wherein we begin to see the darkness in our protagonists` souls. From here, we have a constantly fluctuating juxtaposition of childishness and maturity that forms the rest of the film, ebbing and flowing as the two fight their inner desires and mutual ghosts. It is this perpetual uncertainty in location that not only expresses the characters` own neuroses, but also keeps the audience on their toes, wondering exactly what is going on in these people`s heads.
The one thing Buttercup Bill lacks is perhaps a true sense of direction; although the performances and setting are strong, the narrative rests solely upon the two kindred spirits coming together. That aside, they seem to have little want or desire in life. As such, although the actors are devoted to the script, until the film`s final reveal, it is difficult for the viewer to empathize with them beyond their obvious sexual desire.
Though perhaps not as powerfully nostalgia-inducing as other tales of childhood ghosts, Buttercup Bill is an intelligent and well-crafted first film from an intriguing pair of new directors with some wonderful performances from up and coming actors. Keep an eye out for this lot!
Dir: Remy Bennett, Emilie Richard-Froozan
Scr: Emilie Richard-Froozan
Starring: Remy Bennett, Evan Louison, Pauly Lingerfelt, Mallory June
Prd: Emma Comley, Sadie Frost
DOP: Ryan Foregger
Music: Will Bates
Run Time: 96 mins
Buttercup Bill is in UK cinemas and On Demand on 4 September and available on DVD 12 October.