Breakfast on Pluto
Both epic and intimate, Breakfast on Pluto uses the life of Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy, Batman Begins), a queer orphan boy, to explore the hidden worlds that lie beneath so-called “normal” society—the subcultures of homosexuals, the Irish Republican Army, and prostitutes. At odds with his conservative Irish town, Patrick rebels with the fearlessness of someone whose life feels worthless. When he leaves for London, where he hopes to find his mother, he joins a touring rock band, is almost murdered, becomes assistant to a magician…
Both epic and intimate, Breakfast on Pluto uses the life of Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy, Batman Begins), a queer orphan boy, to explore the hidden worlds that lie beneath so-called “normal” society—the subcultures of homosexuals, the Irish Republican Army, and prostitutes. At odds with his conservative Irish town, Patrick rebels with the fearlessness of someone whose life feels worthless. When he leaves for London, where he hopes to find his mother, he joins a touring rock band, is almost murdered, becomes assistant to a magician (Stephen Rea, The Crying Game), is arrested as an IRA terrorist, and joins a peep show—and those are only half of the markers on his odyssey (the movie struggles to encompass the novel by Patrick McCabe). Though the first half of the movie feel almost weightless in the headlong rush of events, a rich emotional heft sneaks up on you; by the end, Breakfast on Pluto has become almost unbearably sad and wonderfully buoyant. Murphy’s superb performance is both delicate and willful, ably supported by an excellent cast, including Liam Neeson (Kinsey), Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), and Ian Hart (Backbeat), as well as rock stars Gavin Friday and Bryan Ferry (who has a particularly creepy cameo as a serial killer). —Bret Fetzer
Barnes and Noble
Filmmaker Neil Jordan seems to seek out stories built around protagonists who are outsiders struggling to function in inhospitable and often openly hostile environments. And in Patrick Braden, Breakfast on Pluto’s protagonist, he’s found just such a character. Abandoned by his mother while still an infant, Patrick grows up in foster homes and develops some sexual-identity issues. Eventually he leaves his small Irish community and goes to London, where he works as a cross-dressing cabaret singer while trying to find his mother, who is rumored to be living there. At one point reduced to street prostitution, Patrick—who prefers to be known as “Kitten”—refuses to surrender his individuality and remains true to his own nature, which is delicately superficial. Jordan surrounds Kitten (played as an adult by Cillian Murphy) with vaguely Dickensian characters, among them a street-smart vagabond (Brendan Gleeson), a second-rate magician (Stephen Rea), and a kindly priest (Liam Neeson). He also plunges Kitten into some colorful, albeit unlikely, situations: At one point, following the bombing of a London pub in which he’s been working, Kitten is believed to be an IRA soldier. As in The Crying Game, Jordan uses the Irish-English “troubles” of the 1970s as an underlying stark reality; but since this is Kitten’s story, there’s much more whimsy at play. This would not have worked if not for Murphy’s astonishing performance, which makes this unpredictable movie a rewarding change of pace. Ed Hulse
With wonderful delicacy and subtle insight and intimation, McCabe creates Mr. Patrick “Pussy” Braden, the enduringly and endearingly hopeful hero(ine) whose gutty survival and yearning quest for love resonate in and drive the glimmering, agonizing narrative in which the Troubles are a distant and immediate echo and refrain.
As Breakfast on Pluto opens, her ladyship, resplendent in housecoat and head scarf, reclines in Kilburn, London, writing her story for the elusive psychiatrist Dr. Terence, paring her fingernails as she reawakens the truth behind her life and the chaos of long-ago days in a city filled with hatred. Twenty years ago, she escaped her hometown of Tyreelin, Ireland, fleeing her foster mother, Whisker—prodigious Guinness-guzzler, human chimney—and her mad household (endless doorstep babas!), to begin a new life in London. There, in blousey tops and satin miniskirts, she plies her trade, often risking life and limb among the…[more]