The Butcher Boy

Critics Consensus

Equal parts comical and harrowing, The Butcher Boy is a sobering tale of abuse told with an imaginative lyricism that is by turns inspired and distracting.

77%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 61

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,101
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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.

Cast

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
Patrick McCabe
as Jimmy-The-Skite
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 Gallery
Aine McEneaney
as Girl at Shooting Gallery
Pat McCabe
as Jimmy-the-Skite
Tony Rohr
as Bogman in Mental Hospital
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 Narrator, Da Brady
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News & Interviews for The Butcher Boy

Critic Reviews for The Butcher Boy

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (14)

  • The Butcher Boy is a trip, all right, but one that I'm sorry I took.

    Feb 5, 2018 | Full Review…

    Paul Tatara

    CNN.com
    Top Critic
  • The movie is well-crafted and tightly assembled, but it's also loud and unmodulated.

    Jan 8, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Mike Clark

    USA Today
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Mar 11, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Jordan's 10th feature is an ambitious pic that remains intimately focused, a brutally honest exploration of a disturbed mind that is both horrific and darkly comic.

    Dec 24, 2005 | Full Review…

    Emanuel Levy

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

    Aug 7, 2004

Audience Reviews for The Butcher Boy

  • Sep 22, 2010
    Holy Shit yeah DISTURBING as Hell. Kids who grow up in a blocked "family" as this young boy are often misjudged as schizophrenic or a psychopath, dat iz so fuckin wrong. I aint goin in to details. Screw yo the ratings speaks fo itself!
    Lilo C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 15, 2010
    <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897507"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897507_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897506"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897506_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897511"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897511_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897515"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897515_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897514"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897514_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897510"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897510_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <I>THE BUTCHER BOY</I> (1997) Independent DIRECTED BY: Neil Jordan WRITTEN BY: Pat McCabe and Neil Jordan Based on the prize winning stream of consciousness novel by Pat McCabe. FEATURING: Eamonn Owens, Sean McGinley, Peter Gowen, Alan Boyle, Andrew Fullerton, and Fiona Shaw, Aisling O'Sullivan, Stephen Rea, and Sinéad O'Connor GENRE: BLACK COMEDY-DRAMA TAGS: 100% Weird, Disturbing PLOT: Against the backdrop of Cold War absurdity, a rebellious 1950's Irish youth descends into a psychotic maelstrom upon the deaths of his dysfunctional parents and abandonment by his best friend. COMMENTS: High production values and slick editing distinguish this utterly bizarre, offbeat story about a cheerfully deluded boy's descent into madness, mayhem and murder. The lighthearted presentation of repellent material makes for a heavy cinematic encounter that timid viewers wil find unpleasant and unsettling. Francie (Owens) is a slightely delinquent youth but not to extremes. His father (Rea) is a talented, but unrecognized musician -and an anti-social, violent alcoholic. His bipolar mother does her best to distract herself from the family's depressing existence via a plethora of ritualistic domestic zealotry Despite his oddball, dysfunctional family life, Francie manages to hang on until his mother commits suicide. The tragedy triggers a series of frantic misfortunes that lead to an insidious and inevitable structural decay of the framework that Francie desperately needs for a normal maturation.. Lacking valid coping options, Francie immerses himself in a comic book-fueled world of fantasy, accentuated by typical boyish adventures and games. But the games become increasingly grim when misfortune and his own recklessness lead him even further astray. Beguiled by hallucinatory visions, Francie is off first to a Catholic reform school where he stabs a pedophile priest, then to a lunatic asylum where the staff jolts him with shock treatments and a fellow patient warns him of impending trepanation-style lobotomy. Concluding that the damning chain of unalterable events is rooted in a neighbor's hatred, Francie finally plunges over the dam of reality. Maddened and desperate, he cascades away on the headwaters of a psychotic mission to compel salvation and resolution via maniacal revenge. <I>The Butcher Boy</I> is a viewing experience steeped in incongruity. The plot is cinematically presented like that of a comedy. It is anything but. Grim, twisted, and gritty, the sequence of events that unfold are nothing to laugh at. Storybook Warrenpoint and Monaghan, Ireland countrysides accent this foreboding tale, and clash with starkly seedy Dublin locations. Discordant hallucination sequences disrupt the balance of reality. The resulting contrast between subject matter and tempo results in an arty, but disturbing film. <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897505"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897505_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897508"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897508_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897500"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897500_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897501"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897501_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897502"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897502_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897503"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897503_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/the-butcher-boy-13897504"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/13/89/75/13897504_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"> <div style="width:120px;font-size:10px;text-align:center;"></div><a href="http://www.flixster.com/videos?videoId=11129117"><img src="http://i.ytimg.com/vi/-DmDxULCIpo/2.jpg" border="0" /></a><div style="font-size:10px;width:120px;text-align:center;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"><I>The Butcher Boy</I> - trailer
    Pamela D Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2009
    The butcher boy was the story of a boy who turned into madness. The voice-over in present of this man who told his story of his youth in an Irish village in the early 60s. His father was a drunk, his mother was mentally ill, so it was nothing strange why the boy was behaving like that and the thing was, he did not know he was going crazy. He believed this was his normal life, even all his actions made him look like schizophrenic or a psychopath. Neil Jordan directed this movie with beautiful imagination. The movie portrayed dark, sad and even terrifying scenes in sometimes funny ways. Eamonn Owens fantastic performance made this movie a definitely must see.
    Daisy M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 18, 2009
    What a GREAT movie!!!
    Brody M Super Reviewer

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