Fabulous journey is sure to impress
Movies that chronicle the fabulous lives of transvestites are quite often the films that jump from unknown indie flicks to instant cult classics. The reasons why are not clear, but when looking at films such as "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," it's evident that there is a kind of fixation among movie audiences with these gender bending themes.
Well, with that description, "Breakfast on Pluto" deserves an instant induction into the hallowed hall of cult films. It's the story of Patrick "Kitten" Braden (Cillian Murphy), an Irish boy who is abandoned by his mother in front of a church. Kitten grows up quite differently from all the other little Irish boys. He is interested more in clothing (well, dresses) than in anything else, much to the chagrin of his foster mother. By the time Kitten is in high school in the 1970s, he steps over one too many lines and is forced out of his house by his foster mother. This sets Kitten on a wild adventure in pursuit of happiness, acceptance and most of all, his mother, the "phantom lady." His lighthearted journey is juxtaposed with reminders of the all too serious outside world — Ireland in the 1970s was a hot bed of terrorism for the Irish Republican Army (IRA), an organization in which Kitten finds himself much too embroiled.
The film is a refreshing departure from most movies out there. It is divided into chapters, and each chapter features equal parts hysterical humor (just wait for the Wobbles in the park.... try not to die laughing) and heartbreaking realism.
Murphy, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his role, plays Kitten with an outstanding girlish charm. His eyes are bluer than the sky, and he uses them beautifully in portraying Kitten's yearning. The actors who portray Kitten's long string of lovers are also impressive. Gavin Friday stands out as Billy Hatchet, simultaneously the lead singer in a glam rock band (Billy Hatchet and the Mohawks) and a gun pusher for the IRA. His performance is gruff and outrageous, but he is easily swayed by Kitten's eyes and sweet nothings. Stephen Rea is excellent as Bertie, a magician who takes Kitten in following a traumatic experience for the new Londoner. Newcomers Ruth Negga and Laurence Kinlain are both outstanding as Kitten's friends Charlie and Irwin. Negga brings some much needed girl power to the film, and she becomes more of a mother and friend to Kitten than anyone else. Kinlain is a complex character, but this complexity is never fully explored.
The final stand-out is Liam Neeson as Father Bernard, the man who is the pastor of the church upon which Kitten is left. He dredges up sympathy towards a character who could otherwise be dismissed as heartless.
Then again, that's what this movie is about. Director Neil Jordan could have made it a simple story about a boy's quest to find himself. Instead, he amped up the traditional story with flashy costumes, a killer soundtrack, and a whole lot of cross-dressing. People could dismiss this film as weird, bizarre, uncalled for, but they would be missing a fabulous and witty journey into the vibrant mind of Kitten Braden.
"Breakfast on Pluto" (129 minutes, at the Landmark E Street and Bethesda Row Cinema) is rated R for sexuality, language, some violence and drug use.
Becca Sausville. Becca is a senior who is keeping the dinosaur dream alive. She loves Silver Chips a lot, possibly more than life itself. More »