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The Butcher Boy
The Butcher Boy
Actors: Stephen Rea, Fiona Shaw, Eamonn Owens, Alan Boyle, Sean McGinley
Director: Neil Jordan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
R     2007     1hr 50min

Hailed coast-to-coast as one of 1998's best films! The director of The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire crafts this inventive tale of a boy who uses humor, hooliganism and horror to cope with the world around him...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Stephen Rea, Fiona Shaw, Eamonn Owens, Alan Boyle, Sean McGinley
Director: Neil Jordan
Creators: Adrian Biddle, Neil Jordan, Tony Lawson, Redmond Morris, Stephen Woolley, Pat McCabe
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Family Life
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/13/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1998
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 50min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Susan E. Neill | Alexandria, VA USA | 10/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Neil Jordan's difficult-to-watch story about the all-too-common effects of violence on children. Francie Brady is growing up in Carney, Ireland, and enters adolence during the Cold War. He watches the mushroom clouds on the telie and hates the Commies. His drunk of a father, a talented musician who works in a slaughter house, beats both Francie and his mother. Francie bullies a school mate and the boy's mother calls him a pig. The audience gets to watch as these influences steadily take hold of Francie's psyche.

Eamon Owens (couldn't have been more than 15 yo when the movie was being filmed) who plays Francie, is so good, it's scary."
Another Masterpiece!
nancymich | New York, NY | 11/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Slow moving plot? Oh, sure, it would be nice if abused children like Francie wasted no time and got straight to acting on their schizophrenic visions by the time they were, say, two or three years old. But let's face it, you have to be of a certain height to commit such acts, and at three he just would not have been tall enough.The Butcher Boy is yet another masterpiece by Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan of The Crying Game fame. After seeing the movie four times, I went out to get Patrick Mc Cabe's book, but there were no copies left, so I can't discern which aspects of the movie were solely Jordan's vision and which were the work of Mc Cabe.However, it is clear that the feeling throughout the movie is the work of Jordan. The surreal, cartoon-like ambience and the dark, macabre humor amount to nothing less than a brilliant way to present such otherwise deeply depressing material. And if it had been presented in an ordinary way, as the story of a disturbed child with frightful, self-absorbed parents who eventually snaps, it might not have amounted to much more than a Lifetime TV movie-and they're a dime a dozen, a commonness guaranteed to dilute the impact of such a tragic tale.I originally rented the movie for two reasons-because it's Neil Jordan, and to stare at gorgeous Stephen Rea (can't blame me there), possibly the only actor on earth who needs not say a single word to convey volumes of feeling, and whose spoken word is a symphony of sound. The benefit is that I got to see some things the second and third and even fourth times that I never saw the first time through. Like for instance, when Francie's mother is about to hang herself, and she asks Francie if he'd ever let her down. Is this also a little joke about letting her down from the noose had she gone through with it? Can he never make the right choice (he answered no)? Interspersed throughout the film are little breaks of comic relief that help you deal with the sad material-little stabs at some of our favorite targets like the Catholic Church, the priesthood, the English sensibilities, that framed portrait of JFK that my grandmother too had hanging in every room, the influence of TV....And by the way, Eamonn Owens is amazing as Francie.Great movie. Just see it."
Scarlet Billows in Francie's Bubble
Mr. Cairene | Cairo, Egypt | 09/20/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)

"There has been a welcome trend in recent years of films that follow the first person narrative of their source novels. Seemingly free of conventional morality they provide the viewer with the resplendent and singular worldview of their often deranged protagonists. The standouts have been Danny Boyle's Trainspotting 1996 from Irvine Welsh's novel and Fight Club 1999 from Chuck Palahniuk's novel. I haven't read Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy, but from the film's looney narration its easy to guess that the book was written in first person. In the hands of fellow Irishman Neil Jordan's suprisingly whimsical hands, the film is a hysterical tragedy if there ever was one. The time is 1960s Ireland. And from the bizzare opening credits where Mack The Knife plays over the comic book images that so completely engulf the world of our young anti-hero, it is clear that this is not a clear eyed picture of Irish life, but Ireland according to Francis Brady (Eamonn Owens). He's quite a scallywag this lad, he marches through the town along side his best friend Joe Purcell as if they owned it. Surrounded by Irish religious hysteria and John Wayne movies the villains in their world are the detestably snobbish and English accented Mrs.Nugent(Fiona Shaw), Aleins and Communists(in that order). According to the adult Francie's franctic narration his Da Brady (Stephen Rea) is "the best musician in the world" and his Ma is certainly the kindest and most loving of mothers. It is indeed a wonderful life, or a wonderful fantasy. It becomes depressingly clear that Francie's father is a violent alcoholic, his mother a depressed suicidal and most importantly that his friend Joe is embarrassed by him. We the audience are allowed to see what Francie has chosen to block out, he hides in his world of vivid fantasy under a violent exhuberance. As conditions get worse, as his real life crumbles he regresses further into his own world. His fantasies become more vivid, the four letter word spouting Virign Mary(Sinead O'Connor) makes a personal appearance, the insect like aliens invade and the atomic bomb is dropped over Ireland. It is a journey into madness as a protective mechanism, laced with wicked humour and embodied by Eamonn Owens in what is probably the best child performance I've ever seen. It is to Jordan's great credit that he never steps outside Francie's world for a more even handed prespective. And the narration by the wonderful Stephen Rea as the older(never wiser) Francie is often howlingly funny, particularly when he conducts live conversations with his younger self. Take this lovely piece of his mind when he is trapped at reform school, and is concocting a more socially acceptable image: "If anybody comes looking for that bad bastard Francie Brady, they won't find him. He will be too busy getting the Francie Brady Not A Bad Bastard Anymore diploma." Or this charming tidbit as he watches rural farmers, who have come to town for some shopping, dance at a local saloon: "Some people call it dancing, I call it wading through manure." The laughs get fewer and further apart. Jordan is a great director but his refusal to acknowledge the tragedy of this kid is disconcerting. The alternative would have been a sappy Hollywood style disease of the week sacharrine snooze fest. I found myself wishing that Jordan would find a way to acknowledge the tragedy of this character without abandoning the first person narration. He doesn't. As a result the second half of the film has the same happy tunes on soundtrack while a child goes insane. It is rather cruel. In the first half I was laughing with Francis, in this second I would have been laughing at him. Despite my complaints, I still think The Butcher Boy is a success. Its twisted world view is both its biggest problem and its greatest asset. It is an orginal, and for that alone it is worth seeing. When you think of Francis Brady, and after you see the film you certainly will, think of the some of the original lyrics of the Music only version of Mack The Knife that plays over the opening credits: "You know when that shark bites. With his teeth babe. Scarlet billows start to spread. Fancy gloves though, wears ol' MacHeath babe. So there's never, never a trace of red." Francie's fantasies are his fancy gloves. Think about it."
Great. Release on DVD!
Mr. Cairene | 02/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I hope I don't use the term loosely, and at the risk of hyperbole and excessive adjective use, but this is a great movie. Hilarious and heartbreaking. It's one of the smartest, most fascinating and moving pictures I've seen. I can't think of a better made picture or a more accurate, poignant take on both childhood and dementia. Dark but not black, and neither cynical nor a shallow emotionally manipulating tear-jerker, which may account for this pitch-perfect adaptation never being heard of upon release in theaters. The young man playing the lead is stunning, the other actors excellent, the sets, costumes, and direction dead on. I later took the book out of the library, so blown away was I. This is, to trot out an old word, art. That being said, release on DVD!"