21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Butcher Boy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Slow moving plot? Oh, sure, it would be nice if abused children like Francie wasted no time and got straight to acting on their schizophrenic visions by the time they were, say, two or three years old. But let's face it, you have to be of a certain height to commit such acts, and at three he just would not have been tall enough.
The Butcher Boy is yet another masterpiece by Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan of The Crying Game fame. After seeing the movie four times, I went out to get Patrick Mc Cabe's book, but there were no copies left, so I can't discern which aspects of the movie were solely Jordan's vision and which were the work of Mc Cabe.
However, it is clear that the feeling throughout the movie is the work of Jordan. The surreal, cartoon-like ambience and the dark, macabre humor amount to nothing less than a brilliant way to present such otherwise deeply depressing material. And if it had been presented in an ordinary way, as the story of a disturbed child with frightful, self-absorbed parents who eventually snaps, it might not have amounted to much more than a Lifetime TV movie-and they're a dime a dozen, a commonness guaranteed to dilute the impact of such a tragic tale.
I originally rented the movie for two reasons-because it's Neil Jordan, and to stare at gorgeous Stephen Rea (can't blame me there), possibly the only actor on earth who needs not say a single word to convey volumes of feeling, and whose spoken word is a symphony of sound. The benefit is that I got to see some things the second and third and even fourth times that I never saw the first time through. Like for instance, when Francie's mother is about to hang herself, and she asks Francie if he'd ever let her down. Is this also a little joke about letting her down from the noose had she gone through with it? Can he never make the right choice (he answered no)?
Interspersed throughout the film are little breaks of comic relief that help you deal with the sad material-little stabs at some of our favorite targets like the Catholic Church, the priesthood, the English sensibilities, that framed portrait of JFK that my grandmother too had hanging in every room, the influence of TV....
And by the way, Eamonn Owens is amazing as Francie.
Great movie. Just see it.