The title of this 2004 sci-fi thriller starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart refers to the notion of sensitive dependence in chaos theory, whereby a change in something seemingly innocuous, such as the flap of a butterfly’s wings, can have enormous and unpredictable ramifications, such as a hurricane in Asia. The film applies this theory to four children growing up in American suburbia whose young lives have been marred by tragedy. When Evan Treborn (Kutcher), one of the group who is now a psychology undegraduate, discovers he can travel back in time he decides to alter the present by ‘undoing’ the harrowing events of the past.
The story begins with Evan as a child who, though a kind boy, shows definite traits of madness. Rather than sailing boats and flowers, his precocious primary school drawings depict cold-blooded murders; he has frequent blackouts, raids the kitchen cupboard for knives and is eventually referred to a psychiatrist (Nathaniel DeVeaux) for treatment.