The Butcher Boy
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Butcher Boy (DVD)
You can't write off Francie Brady, apple-cheeked hero of The Butcher Boy, as a bad seed and have done with him. In Irish director Neil Jordan's often-surreal fairy tales, bad seeds grow the fruit of subversive knowledge: A master of blending the everyday with the truly mad and wonderfully weird, Jordan loves to encourage charismatic anarchists--driven by amoral energy and imagination--to attack the status quo with extreme prejudice. Exuberant Francie (Eamonn Owens, making a splendid debut) is a thorn in the side of rural Irish repression and hypocrisy. Better to call this smart, too-sensitive brat an ambulatory Rorschach, an uncensored billboard of his disapproving society's uglier truths and fears. A nonstop standup comedian ("And the Francie Brady Not a Bad Bastard Anymore Award goes to--Great God, I think it's Francie Brady!"), he projects fantasies of '60s cold war paranoia (atomic warfare leaves his village a graveyard of charred pigs), American "cowboys and Indians" pop culture, and Catholic Madonna worship (Sinead O'Connor appears as an earthy Virgin Mary). But Francie's rich fantasy life is no match for reality's "slings and arrows": His abusive da (Stephen Rea) pickles himself in drink, his fragile mother edges closer to suicide, "blood brother" Joe turns Judas, and a punitive stint at a Catholic reformatory ends with our Gaelic Holden Caulfield tricked out in girlish bonnet and ruffles, plaything of an addled old priest (Milo O'Shea). No wonder Francie's ultimately driven to exorcize his own Wicked Witch of the West. (He sees Mrs. Nugent (Fiona Shaw), self-righteous pillar of a callous community, as the cause of his cursed life.) Laced with tragedy and hilarity, great beauty and horror, Jordan's adaptation of the Patrick McCabe bestseller mutates the adventures of Francie Brady--psychotic killer, performance artist, and purest innocent--into a sort of saint's life. --Kathleen Murphy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Eventually, as everything good in his life cuts away from underneath him, Francie (Eamonn Owens, in what might be the best performance by a young actor that I can recall) ricochets back and forth between pathetic and frightening. This film is one of those that is painful to watch, and we are inclined, like Francie, to start to dream of how it would only take one bomb to wipe out all the aliens and communists and Mrs. Nugents.
After we've been gleefully horrified and blasphemously assulted, the only real break from the movies' grim nihilism comes at the very end, where the only word of comfort is that God has a special place in his heart for the likes of Francie Brady.
Francie is a fascinating character: the first minutes he gives the impression that he is just an annoying brat, but eventually we can see that this kid is a very perturbed person, whose parents are an ugly mess, there are clear signs of madness in his attitude, and his huge imagination frequently carries him a lot of issues.
Eamonn Owens masterfully plays Francie, the average Hollywood child actor could have taken the story and the movie to doom.
"The Butcher Boy" is perhaps the best movie made by Neil Jordan so far, or at least his most daring film. Definitely "The Butcher Boy" deserves an opportunity, not all the movies should be made following the blockbusters rules.
"Other people have a nationality, the Irish and the Jews have a psychosis." Brendan Behan
It has been a very long time since I've come upon a neophyte actor the likes of Eamonn Owens, who plays Francie Brady in this movie-with-a-subtext. Owens fits the role so perfectly that the character and the actor seem inseparable -- which may limit any future roles offered to the newcomer. Despite the darker side of Francie Brady that emerges during the story, Eamonn Owens captures all the boyhood mystery, games, hopes and dreams of young boys growing up in humble circumstances in the streets and schools of the 20th Century: the comradeship, the dependency upon close boyhood friends, the shared adventures, the clubhouse, the rituals, and the secrets. Cross your heart, turn around and spit on the ground, blood brothers, friends forever,etc.; they are all quite real. This is the in-born source, the genetic grounding, the outward manifestation of our human tribalism. You cannot get the factor of "tribal instincts" out of the human equation.
The actors and the characters in this movie are all Caucasian Europeans , just as one would expect Ireland's Irishmen and Irishwomen to be in 1962 -- at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is refreshing to see an all White cast, which not only reflects the reality of the subject, but it ignores the dictates of censorship and the limitations placed on free artistic expression by the misguided propagandists of political correctness, who have established a color-coded quota system.
Based on the novel by Patrick McCabe, this is the story of a young boy who loses his dysfunctional family members one by one, only to face losing his best friend, his boyhood dreams, his future, and his security.Read more ›
Owens, who could must have been in his early teens when the film was made, is incredible as Francie. He is not a pleasant boy to be around, yet I found Owens' performance so full of exuberance and pathos that I came to care about Francie. Owens definitely needs to keep in acting. He has tremendous talent.
Tying the film together is the outstanding narration of Stephen Rea as the adult Francie, who takes us through his unusual life as he recounts what led to his being incarcerated in the "Garage" (an asylum) for a number of years. Rea is absolutely cheeky in his narration and it works perfectly. He is by turns cynical, flip, self-deprecating, and audacious. I saw this film last week and still find myself wanting to say, "And the Francie Brady Not a Bad...Award goes to!" just as Rea does throughout the film. I could listen to Rea talk for hours and never cease being amazed and enchanted.
Neil Jordan is an innovative, daring film maker. If you have the stomach for it, get "The Butcher Boy". You'll never forget it.
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2004
One of the most horrible films I have ever seen. I didn't expect to be disapointed by such a wonderful director and set of actors; but the story is simply gross. Read morePublished on Nov. 25 2003 by MarianaP
Francie Brady is an exuberant, rambunctious gay preteen living in Cold War Ireland, with an abusive father, an insane mother, and neighbors and well-wishers with various nasty... Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2003 by Nysocboy
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... Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2002 by Susan E. Neill
When will this masterpiece finally be released on DVD? When!? How can 'Monkeybone' be on DVD and not 'Butcher Boy'? Read morePublished on Feb. 9 2002
This film, especially toward the end, reminded me very much of Heavenly Creatures, my favorite movie. Read morePublished on Dec 1 2001
What do you get when you cross Waking Ned Devine with Leolo and The Poisoner's Handbook? Probably something like The Butcher Boy. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2001 by Shantell Powell
The Butcher Boy is a very weird film...This boy Francie has a bad influence; his father. His father is a violent man, alcoholic, but he loves his son a lot... Read morePublished on Sept. 29 2001 by Lunchbox
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