The Butterfly Effect

September 25, 2005 - Ashton Kutcher and Eric Stoltz star in this 2004 drama about a young man whose attempts to rectify the past radically alter the future. Kutcher plays Evan Treborn, who has been subject to blackouts since he was a child. Evan's father is institutionalized because of the same thing.

By the time Evan gets to college, he starts remembering what happened during these blackout periods. And, what happened wasn't good. When he was seven or eight, he got forced into raping his friend Kayleigh as her father (Stoltz) rolled the camera. In later years, Kayleigh's brother kills Evan's dog, assaults Evan's friend Lenny, and blows up a mailbox with deadly consequences. Evan's mom decides to pack up and leave the town - and Kayleigh - behind.

Fast-forward to college, where Evan is a Psychology student. It turns out that he's kept journals recounting what happened during his blackout periods. Evan figures out a way to use these journals as a portal to the past. He goes back to those key times and changes his own actions, thereby changing the outcome. In one scenario, Kayleigh is never raped. In another, the dog is saved and Lenny kills Tommy. In another, Evan saves the baby that died when the mailbox blew up.

That's all well and good until Evan realizes that changing the past changes his own future. In one scenario, he's the big man on campus and Kayleigh is his Homecoming queen girlfriend. In another, Evan is confined to a wheelchair and Kayleigh is dating Lenny. In another, Evan is a college student and Kayleigh is a crack whore.

Eventually, Evan arrives at a future he can live with even though it's not the future he hoped for.

Overall review: *** An intriguing movie based on an intriguing premise. And, in the end, you're not really sure if anything has ever changed.