Buttercup Bill is billed as a “Southern Gothic Romance”. It is the first production of Sadie Frost and Emma Comley’s new outfit Blonde to Black Pictures, set to be released in the UK August 2015. It is also a debut feature from New York film makers Remy Bennett – who also stars in the film – and Emilie Richard-Froozan.
The story follows Pernilla (Remy Bennett) and Patrick (Evan Louison), once childhood friends, now estranged. After the suicide of another former playmate, Pernilla is prompted by the imaginary Buttercup Bill – although his imaginary status is somewhat in question – to leave her seedy New York life (and long-term boyfriend) and return to the nameless, sweaty town in the Deep South, from whence she came.
She turns up at Patrick’s house, having not seen him for many years (we guess). Now reunited, the two pick up where they left up, by engaging in a pretty sadistic relationship. Their relationship status – couple, lovers, friends – is always ambiguous. Their chemistry is childlike and playful at first but it soon develops into something much darker, as they toy with the others, drawing them into twisted sexual games. I must say that this ambiguity starts to wear a little thin after a while.
The setting for this film – the sparkling, tropical, dangerous Deep South – is ideal. The heat is palpable; it is a wild and timeless place. It is the ideal backdrop for the dream-like unravelling of this story, which flickers between past and present. It is a beautiful film to watch.
However, it is quite aware of itself at times. Particularly when Patrick’s newfound religious beliefs are introduced and the filmmakers begin toying with ideas of good and evil. It all becomes a bit much.
Nonetheless, their toxic romance is entrancing. It is a gripping story, beautifully filmed and performed. Louison is startling as the damaged and desperate Patrick. Bennett is excellent as the lost girl, who is obsessive and childlike and lonely. Buttercup Bill is the “Southern Gothic Romance” it claims to be, one that plays with the line between love and cruelty, fantasy and reality. It is visually very beautiful and will leave you feeling dazed, unsure and thoroughly entertained.