Everyday ravishments

Neil Jordan shows us a childhood both deeply Irish and truly deranged

Jordan has the rich wit to make the religious iconography in this movie rapturously funny. The scenes between Francie and Our Lady are both incandescently beautiful and a goof. (She has an unaccountably foul mouth). Jordan directs like a lapsed Irish Catholic who still relishes the savories of religious fervor. It's in his bones. His passion is more with the sinners than the saints. Maybe that's why Francie, with all his unheeding vitality, is the star of the show. He's the worst of the lot but, with his life force, he's also the best. This crazed scamp can reach the ecstatic faster than the truly devout. It's a great cosmic joke.

The Butcher Boy.
Directed by Neil Jordan. Written by Jordan and Patrick McCabe, based on McCabe's novel. Starring Eamonn Owens, Alan Boyle, Stephen Rea, and Fiona Shaw. Opens Friday.

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