I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t know what it is about the young and the old, but they give some of the purest and best performances in film. Young Eamonn Owens, star of Neil Jordan’s The Butcher Boy, is a completely commanding persona on the screen; maybe it’s just the Irish in him, but it comes off as so natural that it would be hard to believe that this isn’t the real Eamonn Owens, if indeed it isn’t. He even got a special mention for his performance at Berlin, which is just about as best a recognition as you could get.
Owens stars as Francis Brady, a 12-year-old Irish lad who lives in his world of comics and television and fantasy. The film opens us up to the world of Irish youth, or rather a particularly outgoing and rambunctious one, his trials and problems with the rest of his town who just doesn’t seem to want to put up with his antics. It’s after he is sent off to reform school and comes back that he finds himself truly alone in the world, and he slowly starts to go insane. The film handles its main character with gusto, giving him free reign to do pretty much whatever he likes, and then gladly throwing the consequences at him like a bag of bricks just to see what he does. It may not make for a main character you would want to be like, but it does make for a highly entertaining film. The Irish-written screenplay, especially the voiceover from an older Francis, was so innately humorous, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the more bombastic dialogue; not because it sounded weird, but because it was so charmingly funny.
The technicals, like the cinematography and the editing, were nothing to throw confetti over, but they did their job well enough to pass by. It was the script and the story, and the sheer amount of personality, that the film had that made it so entertaining. Now, granted, it’s likely not everyone will be as entertained by this as I was, especially if the cultures and dialects of foreigners rubs you the wrong way, but for those of you open to it, this will be a surprisingly rewarding experience with a whiz-banger of an ending that’ll leave you unable to believe you’ve been rooting for such an awful little brat. But hey, the best movie characters are oftentimes the worser ones.
Oh, and I love that poster, by the way; I found it incredibly apropos to the film and to Francie’s character.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10