The Butcher Boy | Chicago Reader

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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. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a burgeoning psychopath whose harsh upbringing in a small Irish town gripped by fear of nuclear holocaust is responsible for his hallucinations and craftiness—a combination we're supposed to find ironic. A voice-over by Stephen Rea represents an older Francie looking back on his life, and the question of whether Rea, who also plays Francie's father, will eventually take over the role of the son provides the only suspense in the story—a series of largely predictable flashbacks suggesting only that the character's frustration with other people and his antisocial behavior form a vicious circle. Lurid visuals and a splashy soundtrack make the filmmakers seem especially proud of having created—for no apparent reason—an atmosphere of grim hilarity. R, 106 min.

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