The Butcher Boy (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Butcher Boy (1997)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Butcher Boy Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Neil Jordan's superb adaptation of Pat McCabe's disturbing 1992 novel about a 12-year-old Irish boy's descent into madness. There's an amazing debut performance by young Eamonn Owens, with able support from Jordan regular Stephen Rea, as the boy's alcoholic father.more
Rating: R (For language, and violence)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Neil Jordan, Patrick McCabe
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 13, 2007
Warner Bros.


Eamonn Owens
as Francie
Fiona Shaw
as Mrs. Nugent
Sinéad O'Connor
as Virgin Mary
Milo O'Shea
as Father Sullivan
Niall Buggy
as Father Dom
Brendan Gleeson
as Father Bubbles
Stuart Graham
as Priest at College
Ian Hart
as Uncle Alo
Tom Hickey
as Gardener
Sean Hughes
as Psychiatrist I
John Kavanagh
as Dr. Boyd
Rosaleen Linehan
as Mrs. Canning
Pat McGrath
as Farmer on Tractor
Sean McGinley
as Sergeant
Gerard McSorley
as Psychiatrist 2
Ardal O'Hanlon
as Mr. Purcell
Anita Reeves
as Mrs. Coyle
Andrew Fullerton
as Philip Nugent
Annie O'Neill
as Mrs. McGlone
Joe Pilkington
as Charlie McGlone
Jer O'Leary
as Dublin Man
Pat Leavy
as Dublin Cafe Woman
Janet Moran
as Dublin Shopkeeper
Paraic Breathnach
as Man on Lorry
John Olohan
as Mr. Nugent
Ciaran Owens
as Boy at Fountain
Shane O'Connor
as Boy at Fountain
Paolo Tullio
as Mr. Caffolla
Siobhan McElvaney
as Girl at Shooting Gal...
Aine McEneaney
as Girl at Shooting Gal...
Pat McCabe
as Jimmy-the-Skite
Tony Rohr
as Bogman in Mental Hos...
Birdy Sweeney
as Man in Well
Marie Mullen
as Mrs. Thompson
MacDara O'Fatharta
as Alien Priest
Ronan Wilmot
as Policeman
Vinnie McCabe
as Detective
Dermot Healy
as Bogman in Hospital
Stephen Rea
as Da Brady, Narrator
Patrick McCabe
as Jimmy-The-Skite
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Butcher Boy

Critic Reviews for The Butcher Boy

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (14)

Director Neil Jordan and Patrick McCabe adapted McCabe's novel for this bland 1998 shocker that fails miserably as satire, character study, and anything else it might have aspired to.

Full Review… | March 11, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Though the movie sometimes looks as if the authentic Irish wit, colour and blarney has been filtered through the sensibility of a Buñuel or Polanski, Jordan never allows the surreal/expressionist aspects to dominate.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Neil Jordan's most accomplished and brilliant film to date, Butcher Boy is satisfying as faithful literary adaptation and inense cinematic experience that brings to mind in theme Kubrick's equally brilliant Cloakwork Orange.

Full Review… | December 24, 2005
Top Critic

I find myself in an embarrassing position: I think this is a great movie, but I'm not sure.

Full Review… | August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Instead of bathing his story in the warm, lyrical glow of an Irish lament, Jordan mixes domestic tragedy with fierce gallows humor and the stark horror of a Goya painting.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Jordan is remarkable in his ability to reveal people's inner lives and the interaction between everyday life and an individual's imagination and driving passions.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Butcher Boy

Sharp and snappy dialogue, surprising emotional weight, and the perfect and crucial casting of Eamoon Owens (who completely owns the screen) create an unforgettable character study; dark, funny, and full of life. Unique to it's core, and one of Jordan 's best films.

Michael S

Super Reviewer


Jordan's whimsical but dark presentation of a boy gradually becoming psychotic is perfectly disturbing. It captures both the fun and naiveness of childhood, but also details the simple slip from mischievous trouble making into something far less wholesome. Owens gives an amazing performance, he plays it as a child the entire time. One of the most disturbing things is that he doesn't act disturbed. It's a child playing games, feeling betrayed and ultimately doing the only sensible (in his mind) thing to counteract the events in his life. A wonderful mix of a movie, that should have reached it's conclusion sooner.

Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

Neil Jordan's 1997 film The Butcher Boy has striking similarities to Truffaut's The 400 Blows as well as Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, though with much more satire if that's possible. Even if it's nowhere close to being as brilliant as those mentioned, Jordan's film is very good.

Possibly the most cheerful film ever made about abusive childhoods, alienation, sexual abuse, madness and murder and should be noted for the simple fact of being the first film in the renaissance of Irish cinema during the 1990s not to be centered around sectarian violence.

El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

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