Butcher Boy, The

Director: Neil Jordan

The Butcher Boy is regarded by many as Jordan’s best filmoeven the best Irish film of the 1990s. Reviewers and audiences alike were united in a recourse to superlatives on viewing Jordan’s adaptation of Pat McCabe’s equally successful novel. It follows the adventures and descent into madness of young Francie Brady (played with relish by outstanding newcomer Eamonn Owens), whose mother suffers from mental illness before committing suicide and whose father (Stephen Rea) is an alcoholic. The Brady family and Francie in particular feel increasingly isolated within a small community which is largely depicted as uncaring and hypocritical. The backdrop to Francie’s personal apocalypse is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the importance of popular culture to his outlook. Despite his violent and psychotic response to his environment, his behaviour nonetheless appears logical. This is due in part to the fact that Francie is the filter through which we understand events. Visually and aurally striking, The Butcher Boy is rich and energetic in a way which leaves far behind other Irish coming-of-age films set in the ‘safe’ innocence of the 1950s and 1960s.
U.S.A., 1997. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 110mins.

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