Breakfast on Pluto

Neil Jordan began working on Breakfast on Pluto years ago, shortly after he completed The Crying Game. It was a good choice, since the movies are similar on a superficial level. The other nice outcome of waiting was the ability to cast Cillian Murphy in the lead as Patrick "Kitten" Braden, the flamboyant, cross-dressing gay man. Breakfast on Pluto, based on the novel by Patrick McCabe (who also wrote the novel The Butcher Boy which Jordan adapted) is Braden's life story set against the backdrop of increasing tension with the IRA. Stylistically, it is a good effort from Jordan (The Good Thief, The End of the Affair), but aside from Murphy's (Batman Begins, Red Eye), this is a pretty conventional story.

Braden's entire life surrounds the identity of his mother. He was found on the steps of a church and raised first by Father Bernard (Liam Neeson, Chronicles of Narnia, Batman Begins) and later by a foster mother. All he knew about his mother was that she worked for Bernard, left for London, and resembles film star Mitzi Gaynor. He has a fondness for dressing up in women's clothes and wearing makeup, and becomes friends with the various outcasts. Aside from some hellish experiences at home, his childhood actually seems nice, with a supportive circle of friends. Braden is a natural born troublemaker, and a particularly randy essay gets him kicked out of school. Soon, he's parading around as "Kitten," a very manly looking woman.

It's also around this time that he leaves the small town of Tyreelin and begins his own little jaunt through the big world and through some relationships. He meets and thinks he falls in love with Billy Hatchet (Gavin Friday, Disco Pigs), the singer of a small band who also has IRA sympathies. This relationship ends violently, and Braden is off on some more boring adventures, including a stint with John-Joe (Brendan Gleeson, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Kingdom of Heaven) in an amusement park, and a job and relationship with magician Bertie (Stephen Rea, Evelyn, FearDotCom). It is only after this relationship that Breakfast on Pluto becomes briefly engaging.

Jordan takes Braden straight to the rock bottom. His life falls apart, and he finds himself on the street. He begs the police to keep him in jail, because he feels safe there. Inspector Wallis (Ian Hart, Finding Neverland, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) realizes that Braden is a good kid, and steers him in the right direction for a job. At the same time, story threads that Jordan has set up begin to bear fruit, and Braden has to do a lot of growing up. It is here that Murphy's performance shines. To this point, Braden has been a bit self-absorbed (and honestly a bit annoying). Now, he is finally beginning to grow up and take responsibility. Jordan forces him to take a look at his life as a whole, and figure out where he wants to go. The IRA and intolerance also begin to rear their ugly heads, and everything works well until the tone of Breakfast on Pluto begins to get a bit preachy.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 15 minutes, Rated R for sexuality, language, some violence, and drug use.

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