The Butcher Boy
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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.

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader
"I find myself in an embarrassing position: I think this is a great movie, but I'm not sure."
‑ David Denby, New York Magazine/Vulture
"...clumsily lurches from one irrelevant, uninteresting episode to the next..."
‑ David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
"A horrific tale of madness and abuse told with pop-eyed color and giddy humor."
‑ Chris Barsanti,
"The Butcher Boy manages to present scenes of violence and despair within a carnival atmosphere, yet still touches us, largely due to Jordan's assured hand in directing this complex tale."
‑ Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews
"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."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Instead of bathing his story in the warm, lyrical glow of an Irish lament, Jordan mixes domestic tragedy with fierce gallows humor and the stark horror of a Goya painting."
‑ Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
"Owens' remarkable, high-pitched performance and Jordan's lush, visionary style are perfectly suited to the material."
‑ Ken Fox, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"The film almost immediately loses the major asset of the novel: its language. Possibly a quarter of the movie is incomprehensible to the American ear."
‑ Brandon Judell, Entertainment Asylum
"The Butcher Boy reveals how a soul's future, in the early stages of development, is highly influenced by love, or the lack of it."
‑ Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer
"Neil Jordan's most accomplished and brilliant film to date, Butcher Boy is satisfying as faithful literary adaptation and inense cinematic experience that brings to mind in theme Kubrick's equally brilliant Cloakwork Orange."
‑ Emanuel Levy, Variety
"Jordan is remarkable in his ability to reveal people's inner lives and the interaction between everyday life and an individual's imagination and driving passions."
‑ Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
"Intensely colourful, but somehow soulless."
‑ , Film4
"The film's horrific conclusion is as uncompromising as it is inevitable and, unfortunately, ever-more topical."
‑ Merle Bertrand, Film Threat
"What makes the film so disturbing is that it charts much of what happens in the normal course of growing up -- filtered through the main character's warped sense of reality."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
More reviews for The Butcher Boy on Rotten Tomatoes