In Short: Nutcase Francie Brady tells the story of his childhood and the events that led up to him being institutionalised.
The Butcher Boy tells the story of Francie Brady, who is in trouble for ?what he done on Mrs. Nugent?, which means, in plain-talk, ?what he did to Mrs. Nugent? - for people who have a hard time understanding Irish lingo [I know I did, for the longest time. Then I started watching WAY too many Irish movies and reading WAY too many Irish books.] ? or those with dirty minds.
Shame on youse.
It starts with Francie and his friend, Joe, who play together like boys do. Then it introduces the uppity Mrs. Nugent and her son Philip. Francie and Joe trick Philip into giving them his comics, and Mrs. Nugent has a course word with Francie?s parents, his alcoholic father, Benny [Rhea] and his schizophrenic, suicidal mother, Annie, calling them pigs.
Well, for Francie, that insult is what set off the chain of events. One day after school, Francie finds his mother about to hang herself, and soon after, Annie is sent off to a mental institution, or, as he calls it, ?the garage?. After her return, Francie?s uncle Alo [Hart] pays them a visit, but Benny is so rude to him that he leaves and never returns. That same night, Francie runs away to Dublin, where he has a few adventures, then buys a present for his mother, but, returning home, finds that his mother is dead. She had drowned herself after he ran away from home.
Francie is convinced that the whole mess is the fault of the Nugents, so he lures Philip into an old chicken loft and tries to kill him, but is stopped by Joe. Not long after that, still stewing about the Nugents, Francie breaks into the Nugent house after they have left and trashes it, smashing plates, destroying cakes that Mrs. Nugent baked, writing ?PIGS? all over the house in lipstick, and finally - the coup de gras, as it were - having a schizophrenic school lesson and relieving himself on Mrs. Nugent?s floor.
What a charming lad.
For this bit of unexplainable bad behaviour, Francie is sent off to a reforming school run by priests, most notably Father Bubble [Gleeson, looking rather alarmingly thin, if anyone has seen 28 Days Later, Harry Potter, A.I., or any other notable Gleeson film]. Francie is told that all he has to do is prove that he?s not a bad lad anymore and he can go home, which sets him on the goal of earning the Francie-Brady-Not-A-Bad-Bastard-Anymore-Diploma. After asking to be made an altar-boy, Francie overhears a sermon about the Virgin Mary appearing to children and concocts a plan. The next day, Francie claims to have seen the Virgin Mary so he will not have to labour in the fields. Impressed and overjoyed, Bubble takes Francie and introduces him to another, higher-up father, who takes a certain shine to him. Well, he took more than just this ?shine? to Francie in the book, but you can?t win them all, I s?pose. That, and it would have made the film NC-17. And probably banned in America.
After the priest goes a little too far with his questionings and strange fancies [dressing Francie up in a bonnet? WEIRDO!] Francie tries to attack him with a letter-opener, and Bubble has to intervene. For having been molested [gasp!] by the priest, Francie is allowed to leave the reform school and go back home. When he gets back home, his best friend Joe has turned on him and made Philip Nugent his new best friend, leaving Francie alone in the world, but for his alcoholic father. Francie gets a job at the butcher?s, making him Francie Brady the Butcher Boy, and takes it on himself to do everything possible to make life the best he can for himself and his father.
The Butcher Boy was? bizarre. There really is no other word for it. The way it was presented made you scratch your head and wonder if the person writing it was schizophrenic, too. It was similar to the book, but for some reason, it just did not transition well from novel to screen? like many other books. Sadly. Though this one was a disaster waiting to happen. The book is written in a very unique way, so that it would be nearly impossible to make into a movie. Kudos for trying, though. For example, here is a passage from The Butcher Boy:
/There you are says the amazing Father Dom sorry father can?t stop to talk it was a different story now I reckoned with all these jobs I was important now and I had no time to waste gossiping. But especially to the likes of Roche who stopped me one day with the black bag and stands there looking at me, out of nowhere again of course. Look Roche, I wanted to say to him, if you want to spoil things go off and spoil them on somebody else. I?m a busy man and I have things to do. I?m in charge and I have no time for fooling about and talking shite to the likes of you so go on now about your business and leave people to do their work in peace. That was what I wanted to say to black eyebrows Roche./
Like I said. Impossible to put onscreen. But kudos for trying.
Overall, it?s good for anyone who read and liked the book, or even just read the book, or who is used to quirky Irish stuff, of with Neil Jordan?s style, or who liked Breakfast on Pluto? any of those, it might be worth taking a look at. If you?ve got all of those going for you, then it?s definitely worth renting.
But, uh? try not to take it to heart.