Dir: Neil Jordan. Ire-UK. 2005. 135mins.
Neil Jordan comes over all Almodovar in BreakfastOn Pluto, a sprawling, picaresque account of a young transvestite's epicodyssey in search of his mother. Jordan has a patchy record with broad comicmaterial (High Spirits, We're No Angels etc) and this reunionwith Butcher Boy writer Patrick McCabe is no exception.
Awkward changes in tone from outrageous comedy tostark drama and CG whimsy make for a chaotic and ultimately frustratingexperience. The abundance of plot developments, repetitive nature of the storyand over-emphatic soundtrack of wall-to-wall pop classics all diminish theimpact of a wildly uneven film that only engages in fits and starts.
Box-office will reflect a complex venture that manyaudiences will consider too much of a challenge.
Just like Gael Garcia Bernal in Bad Education,Cillian Murphy fully commits himself to the role of Patrick 'Kitten' Braden.Sporting the soft, lilting accent of a Mrs Doubtfire, he is a doe-eyed coquettewith an innocence and steely determination that seem to protect him from allevil.
Divided into 36 chapters, the film begins whenPatrick is abandoned on the doorstep of an Irish priest (Neeson). His mother(Birthistle) is said to be the spitting image of 1950s movie star Mitzi Gaynorbut has left for London leaving her shame behind.
Kitten is given to a foster mother and grows into thekind of cheeky, beautiful, androgynous young man who always attracts trouble.When he leaves home in the 1970s, he also seems to attract a string of besottedmale admirers willing to protect him, including a madcap magician (Rea) and abrutal, hardnosed cop (Hart).
The Alice In Wonderland quality of Kitten'sadventure is brutally interrupted by the intrusion of bloody reality when aLondon nightclub is destroyed by an IRA bomb and Kitten is arrested as apossible terrorist suspect. The Irish Troubles are a constant presence in thefilm and Kitten's blithe spirit and devil-me-care attitude are shown as areaction to the Ireland of the period and his own particular circumstances.
Although engaging in places and amusing at times, thefilm feels baggy and overlong. Liam Neeson is allowed to overplay the comicscenes as the randy priest although is thoroughly convincing in the moredramatic scenes that come towards the journey's end.
Rea seems much too mannered with his English drawl ofan accent and the general air of indulgence is underlined by the appearances oftwo CG robins whose twittering exchanges are translated via subtitles.
Perhaps, the real problem for Breakfast On Plutois the character of Kitten, who often seems more infuriating than endearing,and never quite captures the heart in the way Jaye Davison's not entirelydissimilar character did in Jordan's The Crying Game. He remains animpervious, indomitable survivor who only attracts our full compassion in thefinal chapters of the tale.
Ultimately, Breakfast On Pluto is just toorich and too undisciplined and its initial exuberance becomes exhausting.
Pathe Pictures International