Buttercup Bill (2014)

Released to UK cinemas in the same week as Miss Julie, I reckon these two films make an interesting, if somewhat dispiriting, double-bill. Stylistically they couldn’t be more different, but they’re both films about a creeping sense of (male) sexual violence that permeates the life of a woman, in this case Pernilla (Remy Bennett, one of the film’s co-writer/directors). It’s good that the film gained a release, as in many ways it feels equally akin to the experimental textures of Josephine Decker’s Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, another story of psychosexual dread in a liminal setting. Here we have the humid climes of Louisiana, and the characters’ vices seem conveyed right from the off by their parched, raw voices, constantly dragging on cigarettes or downing booze. The dread I mentioned is for much of the film kept in abeyance, a recurring hint towards some childhood trauma involving an unseen dead girl called Flora. Following the funeral, Pernilla goes to see Patrick (Evan Louison), the brother-like figure with whom they grew up, and they rekindle a relationship that gradually becomes more dysfunctional and perverse. In many ways it’s the atmospherics of the location, the Christian imagery of the set design, and the gorgeous cinematography which convey this mood rather than anything inherently prurient in the camerawork (excepting perhaps a trip to a strip club), but I get the sense of an assured direction from newcomers Richard-Froozan and Bennett. Definitely filmmakers worth keeping an eye on.

Buttercup Bill film posterCREDITS
Directors/Writers Émilie Richard-Froozan and Remy Bennett; Cinematographer Ryan Foregger; Starring Remy Bennett, Evan Louison; Length 96 minutes.
Seen at Curzon Bloomsbury, London, Thursday 10 September 2015.