Basic Info

Original title: El Efecto Mariposa
English title: The Butterfly Effect
Country of origin: Spain
Director: Fernando Colomo
Released: 1995
Cast: Coque Malla, María Barranco, Rosa María Sardà, James Fleet, Peter Sullivan
Location: Filmed in London, UK.
Running time: 110 minutes
Category: Romance, comedy
Soundtrack: Ketama
IMDb user rating: 7.2
If you are looking forward to watching a documentary about the chaos theory grounded in pure scientific fact then you have picked up the wrong video. The butterfly effect referred to here is how four people's lives change drastically when a young student sees the butterfly tattoo on his aunt's bum. Intrigued? Then read on...

The plot

(Basic plot summary only, to avoid spoilers.)
Luis, a young well-heeled Spaniard, is shipped off by his doting parents to London to study economics. His mum, Noelia, accompanies him to Camberwell, where her sister Olivia lives with her husband Duncan, an out-of-work actor, and their son. Olivia has arranged for Luis to stay with her next-door neighbour, a rather clueless but kind-hearted Trekkie. Noelia is called back to Spain as her husband is tangled up in a political scandal so she leaves Luis in her sister's capable hands, asking her to 'sort him out a bit' as he is far too serious and conservative for a 20-year-old. Olivia discovers that Duncan is cheating on her, so she kicks him out and turns to Luis for sympathy and a shoulder to cry on. Noelia returns to London to find that Luis has indeed loosened up, but much more than she had bargained for and now she too will be caught up in the butterfly effect.

The actors

The three Spanish actors listed above are all well-known and respected in Spain.
Coque Malla (Luis) is the erstwhile lead singer of influential 80s indierock group, Los Ronaldos, who is now making a name for himself as a credible actor.
Rosa María Sardà (Noelia) and María Barranco (Olivia) are both Almodóvar heavyweights. Rosa María Sardà is possibly best known outside of Spain for her role in Todo sobre mi madre and María Barranco in Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios.
James Fleet (Oswald, the Trekkie) you would recognise as the stinking rich and socially inept Tom in Four Weddings and a Funeral or, in the UK at least, the equally dim and gawky Hugo in The Vicar of Dibley.


The movie is a pleasure to watch with its gentle comedy and original plot which hold your interest throughout. There are some lovely vignettes of 'how others see us' dotted about; good-natured prodding at the stereotypes of both the Spanish and the British. A generous dose of social comment, too, with a glaringly obvious reference to the corrupt Socialist government of 80s Spain and the fact that Luis is so straightlaced and scrupulously honest in stark contrast to his parents.
I admit to having a soft spot for this film because it touches on two topics which are very close to my heart. First, the clash of British and Spanish cultures, something I have lived through myself, and secondly as a linguist I find Noelia and Oswald's attempts to communicate nothing short of inspiring. I was also delighted to see the inclusion of a Trekkie as this is an exceedingly rare lifeform in Spain. I had a lot less explaining to do about my own eccentricities once my Spanish family and friends had seen this film. Maybe that's why I like it so much.
Do watch it in Spanish if you can. The plot is easy to follow so you won't need to be an expert in Spanish and the humour will work better than in the dubbed-into-English version.

Credit where it's due:
princess loulou's movie database