The Butcher Boy

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

The comic-strip panels that fill the screen during the opening credits set the tone: Neil Jordan's adaptation of Patrick McCabe's award-winning novel is brash, broadly drawn and awash in saturated color. But it's no cartoon. Bubbling just below the hyper-real surface is a wrenching and ultimately horrifying tale of adolescent isolation. It's 1962, and as...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The comic-strip panels that fill the screen during the opening credits set the tone: Neil Jordan's adaptation of Patrick McCabe's award-winning novel is brash, broadly drawn and awash in saturated color. But it's no cartoon. Bubbling just below the hyper-real

surface is a wrenching and ultimately horrifying tale of adolescent isolation. It's 1962, and as the Cuban Missile Crisis escalates to a nail-biting climax, a different kind of explosion is set to blow in a small Irish village. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a precocious 12-year-old hellion whose

freckle-faced, manically cheerful exterior masks an ever-deepening emotional disturbance. Francie lives in a fantasy world of comic books and TV, and with good reason: His mother (Aisling O'Sullivan) is chronically depressed, his father (Stephen Rea) is known as the best drinker in town, and

Francie's archenemy -- the Brady's evil neighbor Mrs. Nugent (Fiona Shaw) -- repeatedly reminds the boy that he and his family are no better than pigs. So a pig is what Francie is determined to become, particularly after his mother commits suicide and his father lays the blame squarely on

Francie's shoulders. As every childish nightmare of abandonment comes true and Francie is failed by every person he ever loved, his uncontrollable rage leads him to a moment of appalling -- and appallingly understandable -- violence. Jordan and cowriter McCabe have done a masterful job adapting

the novel for the screen, turning Francie's ranting interior monologue into a vivid vision of the world through the eyes of a disturbed child. Owens' remarkable, high-pitched performance and Jordan's lush, visionary style are perfectly suited to the material: Jordan fills Francie's head and the

screen with extraordinary, often fantastic images -- not the least of which is an amusing cameo by Sinead O'Connor as none other than the Virgin Mary.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: R
  • Review: The comic-strip panels that fill the screen during the opening credits set the tone: Neil Jordan's adaptation of Patrick McCabe's award-winning novel is brash, broadly drawn and awash in saturated color. But it's no cartoon. Bubbling just below the hyper-r… (more)

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