ACIDEMIC Journal of Film and Media

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Eamon Owens - the BUTCHER BOY

The DVD review of Neil Jordan’s The Butcher Boy is a cause for celebration.

Anyone who had a real best friend as a child, the sort with whom you share a common bond of the imagination that sometimes begins to worry your parents, should fall all over themselves in praise of The Butcher Boy, which has been released this week from Warner Brothers. Set in a small 1950s Irish town, it’s the story of young Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) a cheeky lad with a buoyant imagination that carries him through a sorrowful life, eventually leading him to cold blooded murder of his best friend’s disapproving mother (Fiona Shaw).

There’s a lot in common ground here with Peter Jackson’s equally magnificent Heavenly Creatures, here. The difference being that the best friends are girls and they team up to murder the one’s evil mother who would keep them apart. Whereas Francie’s best friend Joe becomes aware of his friend’s mounting psychosis and is glad when his mom sends him far away to boarding school. Francie refuses to believe Joe could abandon him and his cheery denial of just how screwed he is by the forces of Irish luck becomes, under the incredibly assured performance of young Owens, more a cause for leery celebration rather than the creepiness that similar adult performers bring to similar roles (such as De Niro as Rupert Pupkin, for example).

Poor Francie though, you can’t really blame him, as the psychotic madness of the Cuban Missile Crisis happens overseas, with all the Irish enthralled with American president JFK, Francie’s home life hangs by a thread, with a sucidally depressed mom and an alcoholc dad (Stephen Rea). Francie escapes to movies like The Brain from Planet Arous, and begins to imagine Ireland as a post-Apocalyptic wasteland invaded by the evil bogmen. With appearances by Sinead O’Connor as the Virgin Mary, regularly appearing to Francie to assure him of Joe’s loyalty, the film becomes in its way, a truly twisted romance that calls up all sorts of bizarre associations with the incredible power of childhood faith. In the end that sort of faith may lead you right over the edge of sanity, but just keep believing and one day it may even lead you back out again.

Brain from Planet Arous

c. 2007 Acidemic

C. 2013 - Acidemic Journal of Film and Media - BFG LCS: 489042340244