Breakfast On Pluto

on November 16, 2005 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
A sensitive transvestite tries to find happiness in Neil Jordan's sprawling, ambitious but ultimately tiresome fantasia. Chapter one (of 36) introduces the audience to the baby who will grow up to become Patrick "Kitten" Braden ("Red Eye's" Cillian Murphy). The product of a union between Father Bernard (Liam Neeson) and his housekeeper, Patrick is shunted off to an uncaring foster family and quickly becomes obsessed with finding his mother, who abandoned him on the doorstep of Father Bernard's church. He also decides he is a woman trapped in a man's body -- something that doesn't go over too well in his small Irish hometown. Various adventures follow, as Kitten meets up with all sorts -- some who want to love him, others who want to kill him -- even as the situation in Northern Ireland rears its ugly head.

Jordan ("The Good Thief") is in full throttle here, effortlessly and expertly shifting gears from fey fantasy to brutal reality. But the two genres don't mix well and, inadvertently, Jordan and company end up trivializing the violence and terrorism that afflicted England and Ireland in the 1970s and '80s. More problematic still is the film's protagonist. Despite Murphy's believable performance as Kitten, who is determined to ignore life's sadness, her persona is paper thin. There's simply not much depth to her, and the quest to find her mother isn't particularly compelling. The film's secondary characters also fare badly; they're either given thankless, dull roles (Neeson) or are discarded just as they become interesting (Brendan Gleeson as a costumed, drunken entertainer). Even the movie's diverse soundtrack, ranging from Harry Nilsson to Bobby Goldsboro, falls flat, too often unimaginatively commenting on the actions going on within the frame. The film does look gorgeous, courtesy of cinematographer Declan Quinn, and its dark Irish wit is always appealing, but that's not enough. Starring Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea and Brendan Gleeson. Directed by Neil Jordan. Written by Patrick McCabe and Neil Jordan. Produced by Alan Moloney, Neil Jordan and Stephen Wooley. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Rated Rated R for sexuality, language, some violence and drug use. Running time: 135 min

Tags: Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea, Brendan Gleeson, Neil Jordan, Stephen Wooley, violence, terrorism, England, fantasia

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