With the same cinematic creativity and audacity he evidenced in The Crying Game, director Neil Jordan has made a timely and riveting film about the deprivations, fantasies, and violence which cause children to kill without regret. Due to the subject matter, it is not recommended for everyone.

In the small Irish town where he grows up in the 1960s, 12-year-old Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens in an astonishing performance) is known as a clever and spunky kid. Saddled with an alcoholic father (Stephen Rea) and a mentally disturbed mother (Aisling O'Sullivan), he spends most of his time with Joe (Alan Boyle), his best friend. After he taunts the prissy son of Mrs. Nugent (Fiona Shaw), a woman who thinks she's better than her neighbors, she calls Francie's family "pigs." It is a cruel slur that cuts to the quick of the boy's soul and transforms his playful energy into malevolence.

Following his mother's suicide, Francie vandalizes the Nugent home and is sent to reform school. There he has visions of a sexy Virgin Mary (Sinead O'Connor). After being sexually abused by a priest, he is sent home. Francie's descent into darkness is accelerated by the betrayal of his friend Joe and the death of his father. While working at a local slaughterhouse, Francie comes up with an idea on how to extract his revenge upon Mrs. Nugent.

Based on a novel by Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy is propelled by a playful stream-of-consciousness narrative between the young Francie and his elder persona who, after years in mental institutions, has a final encounter with the Virgin Mary. The lead character's hepped up fantasy life based on films and TV programs is also fed by apocalyptic images of the atomic bomb, the Bay of Pigs, and the end of the world. The Butcher Boy reveals the shadow side of imagination that can be created out of deep-seated hatred and hurt.

Special DVD features include a commentary by director/co-screenwriter Neil Jordan and additional scenes.