BREAKFAST ON PLUTO

Breakfast On Plutois a re-imagined and re-shaped Cinderella story of sorts, set against the backdrop of ‘the troubles’ in 1960’s and 1970’s Northern Ireland. A young man, Patrick ‘Kitten’ Braden (Cillian Murphy), sets out from his village of Tyreelin on a journey to find his mother, or as he likes to call her ‘the mysterious phantom lady’.

Abandoned at birth and misunderstood by his adoptive family (Patrick likes to wear his sister’s dresses), heading off to London is also a form of escape for him. Along his travels, he encounters many strange and interesting characters all of whom help to further define who he is and to cement those characteristics that will make him the woman he was always meant to be. A woman named Patricia.

Breakfast On Pluto is one of those films that has so much going on in it that a second viewing will most certainly be needed to grasp everything that director Neil (The Crying Game) Jordan is trying to show you. It’s a layered fantasy of a film that employs everything from talking birds to rapid and completely unexpected changes in style and genre (a scene in which Patrick re-imagines his conception is a fantastic example of this) and it works extremely well in what it does because it mirrors the world that Patrick, a. k. a. Kitten, inhabits: A world that is in constant upheaval. Presented to an audience in a series of labelled and numbered chapters, Patrick’s life is chronicled from his early childhood in a Bridget Jones’ Diary – on drugs – format.

This approach may lose some of the audience because of the rather tumultuous form of storytelling the film has chosen to adopt – always changing and evolving – but Neil Jordan makes sure we never get too lost by rooting us in his constructed world through the character of Patrick.

From the outset, Patrick knows that he is Kitten. He knows that he likes wearing dresses and makeup, and seducing boys and no matter what happens to him, no matter how shaken he is, he always pushes on. His defiance is where the comedy in this film can be found, and for him he isn’t strange or messed up, its rather the world around him that is. Patrick is a strong character that didn’t really appeal to me at the start of the film but one that definitely grew on me. Credit has to be given to Cillian Murphy for this.

Having acted in a string of blockbuster films last year (notably Batman Begins and Red Eye) and usually as a domineering psychopath type it was a big surprise to see him playing a feminine transvestite with an extremely soft spoken voice. As Patricia, he completely immerses himself in the role and the change from his previous roles is incredible. He pulls it off and carries a film that could have easily fallen with a weaker performance from someone else. I will admit that his voice did grate on me slightly at the start of the film – it is extremely soft – but as I was drawn more and more into his world, it was no longer an annoyance.

The struggle between the British and the IRA provides the film with some intense dramatic moments, but the film uses these to further Patrick’s development and doesn’t, where it could have easily, become too preachy in this respect. It provides an effective dramatic backdrop for the adventures of Patrick.

It’s refreshing to see a film, amongst the assortment of uninspired offerings on circuit at the moment, that takes some risks and does something worthy of the film stock it was shot on. Breakfast On Pluto may be a tad long and a bit too episodic at times but if you want to be engaged with a film – really watch something of worth – then I suggest you make a point of meeting Ms. Patricia ‘Kitten’ Braden.

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