The Butcher Boy (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Butcher Boy (1997)



Critic Consensus: Equal parts comical and harrowing, The Butcher Boy is a sobering tale of abuse told with an imaginative lyricism that is by turns inspired and distracting.

Movie Info

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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Eamonn Owens
as Francie
Fiona Shaw
as Mrs. Nugent
Sinéad O'Connor
as Virgin Mary
Milo O'Shea
as Father Sullivan
Niall Buggy
as Father Dom
Patrick McCabe
as Jimmy-The-Skite
Brendan Gleeson
as Father Bubbles
Stuart Graham
as Priest at College
Ian Hart
as Uncle Alo
Tom Hickey
as Gardener
Sean Hughes
as Psychiatrist I
John Kavanagh
as Dr. Boyd
Rosaleen Linehan
as Mrs. Canning
Pat McGrath
as Farmer on Tractor
Sean McGinley
as Sergeant
Gerard McSorley
as Psychiatrist 2
Ardal O'Hanlon
as Mr. Purcell
Anita Reeves
as Mrs. Coyle
Andrew Fullerton
as Philip Nugent
Annie O'Neill
as Mrs. McGlone
Joe Pilkington
as Charlie McGlone
Jer O'Leary
as Dublin Man
Pat Leavy
as Dublin Cafe Woman
Janet Moran
as Dublin Shopkeeper
Paraic Breathnach
as Man on Lorry
John Olohan
as Mr. Nugent
Ciaran Owens
as Boy at Fountain
Shane O'Connor
as Boy at Fountain
Paolo Tullio
as Mr. Caffolla
Siobhan McElvaney
as Girl at Shooting Gallery
Aine McEneaney
as Girl at Shooting Gallery
Pat McCabe
as Jimmy-the-Skite
Tony Rohr
as Bogman in Mental Hospital
Birdy Sweeney
as Man in Well
Marie Mullen
as Mrs. Thompson
MacDara O'Fatharta
as Alien Priest
Ronan Wilmot
as Policeman
Vinnie McCabe
as Detective
Dermot Healy
as Bogman in Hospital
Stephen Rea
as Narrator, Da Brady
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News & Interviews for The Butcher Boy

Critic Reviews for The Butcher Boy

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (16)

The Butcher Boy is a trip, all right, but one that I'm sorry I took.

February 5, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The movie is well-crafted and tightly assembled, but it's also loud and unmodulated.

January 8, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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.

March 11, 2008 | Full Review…

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.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Jordan's 10th feature is an ambitious pic that remains intimately focused, a brutally honest exploration of a disturbed mind that is both horrific and darkly comic.

December 24, 2005 | Full Review…
Top Critic

I find myself in an embarrassing position: I think this is a great movie, but I'm not sure.

August 7, 2004

Audience Reviews for The Butcher Boy

Sharp and snappy dialogue, surprising emotional weight, and the perfect and crucial casting of Eamoon Owens (who completely owns the screen) create an unforgettable character study; dark, funny, and full of life. Unique to it's core, and one of Jordan 's best films.

Michael S
Michael S

Super Reviewer


Jordan's whimsical but dark presentation of a boy gradually becoming psychotic is perfectly disturbing. It captures both the fun and naiveness of childhood, but also details the simple slip from mischievous trouble making into something far less wholesome. Owens gives an amazing performance, he plays it as a child the entire time. One of the most disturbing things is that he doesn't act disturbed. It's a child playing games, feeling betrayed and ultimately doing the only sensible (in his mind) thing to counteract the events in his life. A wonderful mix of a movie, that should have reached it's conclusion sooner.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

Neil Jordan's 1997 film The Butcher Boy has striking similarities to Truffaut's The 400 Blows as well as Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, though with much more satire if that's possible. Even if it's nowhere close to being as brilliant as those mentioned, Jordan's film is very good. Possibly the most cheerful film ever made about abusive childhoods, alienation, sexual abuse, madness and murder and should be noted for the simple fact of being the first film in the renaissance of Irish cinema during the 1990s not to be centered around sectarian violence. Photobucket

El Hombre Invisible
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

The Butcher Boy Quotes

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