Cinema: Childhood Nightmares

Arson. Murder. Madness. Neil Jordan tracks the road from mischievousness to maliciousness

Mum is going mad, Da is a drunk, and what's worse, 12-year-old Francie Brady (played by the remarkable Eamonn Owens) lives in a provincial town in Ireland in the early '60s. That means neighbors who are either dim or actively disapproving as the Bradys fall further and further into disarray. It also means that Francie's racing imagination is being fed with cultural junk food--cheap religious icons and TV purveying low-end sci-fi and images of the atomic Armageddon that everyone brooded on in those days.

"It'll be a bitter day for this town if the world comes to an end," a lady...

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