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The Butcher Boy by Neil Jordan (Movie Review Sample)


Review of the movie The Butcher Boy by Neil Jordan


Scholarly Movie Review: The Butcher Boy by Neil Jordan
Student’s name
1. Introduction
Neil Jordan’s film The Butcher Boy is a film that captures the story of a dysfunctional family that lacks direction because the parents are not able to provide guidance and support to their son Francie. The 1997 film presents the story of the Brady’s family and neighbors who face the consequences of a disoriented young boy Francie. The film starts on a typical situation where Francie enjoys living playing around with his best friend Joe. Francie is a young boy who likes to fantasize with television and comic book characters. This tranquility is different in Francie’s home where his father is an ill tempered and alcoholic man. The mother is also not very stable mentally and suffers a nervous breakdown. The unfavorable social environment at his home makes Francie to spend most of his time talking and playing with his best friend Joe.
The situation for Francie worsens because of several social factors that affect him directly. First, his mentally unstable mother commits suicide, and he lives with a nasty neighbor who keeps insulting the family. Francie’s attempt to prank the rival neighbor makes him be admitted to a reform school. In the reform school, a priest sexually molests Francie, which also contributes to his psychological problems. Upon his return from the reform school, Francie finds his best friend Joe is admitted in a boarding school. This makes him feel bad because he now does not have someone to keep him company. Francie mental health gradually become worse as he starts top become extremely violent to the point of committing murder. He starts hallucinating with images of Virgin Mary and his job as an assistant butcher seems to make him more violent.
The movie is set in the early 1960 in Dublin. The film was shot in Ireland and much of the activities that took place represent the typical Irish life and most parts of Europe during that time. The European countries were still on the pathway of recovery from the effect of the Second World War. Poverty was a problem in most homes especially if the parents lacked a stable income. The principal characters of the film the film include Francie, his parents Mr. Brady and Mrs. Brady, Francie’s best friend Joe, the neighbor Mrs. Nugent and her son Phillip, Father Sullivan and the Sergeant. The main plot revolves around Francie who is the protagonist and the Nugent family is the antagonists.
2. Diagnosis
The film The Butcher Boy can be described as a psychological drama. This is because of the manner it presents the underlying psychological challenges facing the characters. The main character Francie is facing serious psychological problems that affect his interaction with the society. The film traces the psychological problems facing Francie to his family as well as his psychosocial upbringing. The behaviors of Francie do not only indicate a social deviance behavior but an individual with a mental problem. The following behaviors in the film provide evidence of a mental condition diagnosis on the main character Francie.
From the Francie was a young boy he had deep imagination about television characters, comic book characters and aliens. This behavior indicates that Francie was seeking ways to escape from reality. The identification with aliens and fictional characters was a subconscious way Francie’s mind running away from the depressing environment at his home. When Francie imagined being the heroic characters, he saw on TV and read on comic books it was a way of identifying with a powerful being than his depressing situation.
The second behavior Francie exhibits to indicate that he is not mentally sound is the extreme pranks he makes on Mrs. Nugent. Philip Nugent developed a personal conflict with Francie. The conflict is an extension of the conflict Mts. Nugent had with the Brady’s family whom, she believed to be like “Pigs.” Francie did not feel good because of the manner the Nugent was treating his family. He decided to punish them with a prank which was life threatening to Mrs. Nugent. This prank later develops to violence directed at Mrs. Nugent and other members of the society. From this behavior, it seems that Francie wants to displace his anger to a particular person. He loves his parents, but he does not like what they have put him through since he was a young boy. He vents the anger through his violent pranks that eventually kills Mrs. Nugent.
The third behavior that shows that Francie has a mental problem is the hallucination incidences he experienced. Sometimes Francie imagined that he was with the Virgin Mary. This is an indication that his mind was not okay. Hallucination is one of the symptoms of mental illness. The fact that a priest molested Francie when he was a boy could be a factor why he is seeing the Virgin Mary. He may be seeking the solace of religion to help him out of his frustrations in life.
Francie needs to go through clinical psychological assessments that would ascertain his mental condition. The first step in the evaluation procedure is to take his through a series of interviews, which would help understand his mental condition. The interview would seek to understand his psychological history since he was a small boy. It will help to understand how he reacted to various issues in his life that disturbed him psychologically. The interviews would also assess Francie's mental stability based on the manner he answers questions and his body language.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) are also a reliable method of checking on some of the mental conditions that Francie is suffering from. Kendall, Brady and Verduin (2001) state that using the DSM manual is one of the most appropriate ways to diagnose mental conditions that relate to the social environment. Francie would need to go through structured interview sessions that examine particular issues about his condition. People close to him may also provide information about his behavior that can be helpful in diagnosing his mental condition and establishing an appropriate intervention. Francie also need an assessment of disruptive behavior disorder because his behaviors suggest that he has this condition.
Apart from the direct assessment of Francie, it would also be necessary to know if the mental condition he is suffering from is hereditary. To establish this, then there will be a need to check on the close relatives of Francie including his parents to find out if any had a similar condition. Bradley and Westen (2005) believe some personalities can also cause one to behave in an abnormal manner. Francie needs to go through personality disorder check to find out if his behavior is due to his personality and not a mental condition.
3. Influential Factors
The problematic behavior of Francie has several influences. Francie is under self-pressure to grow and be better than his father. He feels inadequate because his friend Joe seems to have outgrown him and gone off to a comfortable life in boarding school. Drabick and Kendall (2010) argue that an individual can cause developmental psychopathology problem because of low self-esteem. As an only child, Francie feels that he deserves to do better in life and become successful like his television heroes. There seems to be an inner push for him to move out of his situation.
The family is also a factor that can influence developmental psychopathology. Research has established that children who grow up in dysfunctional families are likely to be social defiance than those who grow up in healthy families (Sroufe, 2000). The conditions of Francie’s parents affected his growth since he did not receive god care from either of his parents when growing up. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother was insane. This made Francie feel alone in the world and wish he would fly away from his situation.
The contextual environment that Francie grew up in was an influence to his problematic behaviors. The neighbors, Mrs. Nugent and her son were always making Francie and his parents feel inadequate because of the manner she abused them. Francie developed hate towards the Nugent family that grew to be his biggest problem. Francie also spent part of his childhood in a reform school where a priest molested him. This was also a negative influence to his life. Brendgen, et al (2005) argues that the incidences that occur in a child’s life when growing up can affect his or her developmental psychopathology. A series of negative incidences can harden the heart of a child growing towards his adolescence and early adulthood stages of life.
Francie may also be facing comorbidity disorder. Hudziak et al (2007) state that comorbidity is related to different factors that overlap on an individual’s existing condition. Hudziak et al elaborates that young people suffering from Comorbidity disorder may show symptoms of several psychological disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depressive disorders. Francie was facing several environmental factors when growing up that could have triggered several psychopathological disorders in his life.
4. Treatment
The treatment of development psychopathological problems varies depending on the symptoms of the client and the prevailing social conditions. For the case of Francie, it would have been better if he went through the treatment program when he was still a small boy. Sroufe (2000) argues that developmental psychopathology problems are challenging to treat after they manifest in adulthood. Kendall, Brady and Verduin (2001) also agree that child psychopathology is different from adult psychopathology in terms of symptoms manifested, assessment methods, and treatment...
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