All reviews all the time! Home   Movies   Music   Video Games
4 DVDs 49 cents each!  |  Rent Dvds- Free Trial  |  Buy Movie Posters  

 Search Amazon
  Browse Movies 

 Browse by Genre 

 Other Movie/Video Review
The Butcher Boy

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Butcher Boy

Starring: Eamonn Owens, Stephen Rea
Director: Neil Jordan
Rated: R
RunTime: 106 Minutes
Release Date: April 1998
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Horror

*Also starring: Fiona Shaw, Sinead O'connor, Ian Hart, Pat Mccabe, Andrew Fullerton

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

A popular myth about those who kill in the heat of passion is that they are quiet, friendless people who suddenly explode, letting out repressions that have built up for years. Yet another fiction is that murderers are products of anonymous, urban environments, misfits who are shunted about amid the cacophony of voices, eternally lonely in the bowels of the urban zoo. In "The Butcher Boy," Neil Jordan, best known for his direction of "Michael Collins," explodes these illusions, at least in his treatment of one particularly young, creatively intelligent, and highly sociable fellow. With a marvelous performance by 15-year-old Eamonn Owens in the role of Francie, a life-of-the-party sort whose overly cheerful and gregarious nature might make some psychiatrists wonder what devils are lurking within, "The Butcher Boy" explores the nature of the killer instinct in a film co-written by Patrick McCabe (and based on his novel), one which for quite a while hardly seems as though it belongs to the genre of horror. Jordan mixes the waggery with the macabre so successfully that the morbid and the whimsical seem to blend together as a single species, until he takes his audience down a grisly road with an act of murder that shocks us even as we can predict its inevitability.

The story, which appears autobiographical in that director Jordan came of age during the era of the 1960s in which the picture takes place, centers on Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens), who is so outgoing and cheerful that one would not suspect a malevolent family backdrop. Situated in the small Irish town of Cavan, "The Butcher Boy" follows the escapades of the young man as narrated by Francie several years later, a series of large and small episodes which are given equal weight regardless of their dramatic poundage. Nonjudgmental to a fault, Jordan details Francie's tragic moments and chipper experiences as though he wants to keep his audience off guard and bemused, curious about where he is taking us and what sort of payoff he has in mind. The first clue we have that all is not right under the Owens's roof is Francie's discovery of a chair which his mother (Aisling O'Sullivan) has positioned on a table. His mom, her tears betraying a profound depression and in the throes of a nervous collapse,, begs her son not to allow her to die. This attempted suicide lands her in the hospital. His da (Stephen Rea) is not there when Francie needs him most, a sickly man who is on the sauce and thinks nothing of lashing the boy with his strap without much provocation and kicking in the glass of a TV set which is about dysfunctional as he.

Though Francie's principal solace lies in his adventures with his best friend Joe (Alan Boyle), his vitality and well-being are continually undermined by the malicious gossip of the neighbors, particularly the disapproving observations and reflections of the snobbish Mrs. Nugent (Fiona Shaw), whose bookish son is the object of Francie's contempt. Entirely committed to defending the honor his family, Francie collapses emotionally when he is betrayed by his pal Joe, who turns into an obedient mamma's boy when confronted with the pressure of disapproving adults.

The title comes from Francie's occupation as a cleaner in a slaughterhouse for pigs, the butchery serving as metaphor for the horrors which Jordan has in store for us as he piled on the tensions and urgencies of his young protagonist.

Using Adrian Biddle's camera to capture both the lush splendor of the emerald isle and the claustrophobic confines of the rural village, Jordan makes insistent use of surrealist imagery to portray the fantasy life to which Francie increasingly turns. Shots of the atomic bomb's mushroom clouds mirror the young man's explosive energies while visits from the Blessed Virgin (Sinead O'Connor) provide at least temporary reassurance to his troubled soul. The Ireland of the 1960s is not the jolly land of leprechauns and blarney stones but an island nation filled with pathologies from both families and institutions. As Francie begins to lose it, he is shunted to various establishments, in one case receiving brutal shock treatments for trashing the home of his worst enemy, in another suffering the physical abuse of the priest in charge of a reform school.

As a coming-of-age drama, "The Butcher Boy" will inevitably be compared to classics like "Amarcord" (Fellini's poignant and funny nostalgic trip to Italy of his youth in the 1930s) and "The 400 Blows" (Truffaut's captivating study of Parisian youth who turn to a life of small-time crime in reaction to derelict parents). Jordan adds the hypocrisies and fancies of the people of Ireland to the joyful and trenchant qualities embraced by the citizens of France and Italy, and in doing so enriches the cinema's vocabulary with his stellar cast portraying his country's diverse and all-too-human population.

Copyright 1998 Harvey Karten

More reviews:    Main  2   3  4   Next >>
Featured DVD/Video
Monsters, Inc.
buy dvd

buy video

read the reviews

In Affiliation with
Buy movie posters!

Home | Movies | Music | Video Games | Songs | | | Columbia House | Netflix

Copyright 1998-2002
Privacy Policy |  Advertising Info |  Contact Us