review for The Butcher Boy on AllMovie

The Butcher Boy (1997)
by Jason Clark review

Recalling Stanley Kubrick's powerful 1973 film A Clockwork Orange in its dissection of madness and society's desire to cure it, this hallucinatory, blackly comic feature by the always-provocative Neil Jordan manages to incorporate a variety of mood shifts and subtle commentary in one fully-realized piece of work. Its young star, the gifted Eamonn Owens, gives a finely-etched portrayal of young derangement (which recalls Malcolm McDowell in the aforementioned Kubrick film), and Jordan's signature touches keep the film's absurdist -- yet somehow believable -- execution constantly engaging. Criticized in some circles as a clever but cold work, the film is decidedly not for all tastes, especially in its comically bemused take on its lead character's bizarre behavior. However, Jordan's auspicious handling of such tricky material transcends such quibbles, and provides rewarding entertainment for those willing to go along with it.