I went to my local video store last night and walked straight to its awesome horror section. I was specifically looking for this movie, as i had seen it in the store before, and was about to see it until my friend decided that we'd walk out with Joy Ride. The cover of this movie intrigued me, and lead me to think that it would be a darkly comeidic yet still very scary story about a boy's descent into madness.
The Butcher Boy is about an Irish boy, Francie, whose domestic life is miserable. His dad is always drunk and his mother is mentally unstable. However, he lets his anger out through his mischevous behavior in the town, particularly directed towards Mrs Nugent and her son, a perfect mother with a perfect son. Francie is also best friends with Joe, a sensitive kid of whom we get the impression from that he is losing interest in Francie's treatings of others, which are going a bit too far.
A lot more happens in The Butcher Boy, but if you don't like what you just got, don't see the movie. Though it's not slow, Francie's character development seems to drag, and Neil Jordan seems to advance his personality just before we've had enough.
The acting is what makes the movie what it is. Somebody call Eamonn Owens and give this kid a part in a movie. He owns the movie, he is the movie. Words cannot describe how good th' young laddie is at acting as the troubled Francie. This has to be one of my favorite acting performances of all time, right up there with Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore, and Kiefer Sutherland in Stand By Me. This kid needs a good role badly. Everybody else is decent, though i feel that Stephen Rea as Francie's father underplayed the role, and could've added more depth to the character. The character seemed to be waiting to become lively and three dimensional, but Rea went for the B minus and stopped there.
The butcher boy was not what I expected, and if you're looking for a horror movie about madness, look elsewhere. If you want a dramatic character study with a child actor better than a million Haley Joel Osments, this is for you. It is thought provoking, upsetting, and doesn't beg for it at all. How many movies can you say that about?