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Breakfast on Pluto - Review

Cillian Murphy in Breakfast on Pluto

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Neil Jordan commentary. Making of. Deleted Scenes. Cast and Crew Bios.

THEMATICALLY, Neil Jordan’s latest film has much in common with the director’s earlier work, The Crying Game and The Butcher Boy, but it’s a messy affair that frequently feels as mixed up and fairy-light as its central character.

Based upon the book by Patrick McCabe, Breakfast on Pluto finds Cillian Murphy as happy go lucky transvestite, Patrick ‘Kitten’ Braden, who travels to London in search of his mother during the Swinging Sixties and hedonistic Seventies.

Having been abandoned as a baby, Kitten had a rough start to life but seems oblivious to many of the troubles surrounding him, existing in a sort of dream-like state that defies easy explanation.

His journey in search of his mother is broken down into 36 chapters and follows him from his early years in Ireland to his time spent in London, during which he meets several colourful characters and unwittingly becomes embroiled in the fragile politics of the time.

Being a Jordan movie, the IRA plays a part although scenes of bombings and police raids take a back seat to the state of oblivion in which Kitten frequently exists.

And it is this point which exposes the movie’s failings. Murphy may cut a striking woman but his depiction of Kitten is more annoying than sympathetic and it is very difficult to care for a character who exhibits such little grip on reality.

Saddled with a really annoying accent, Murphy simply fails to engage with the audience and his search becomes an increasingly tiresome affair.

A strong ensemble cast helps to break up the tedium but actors like Liam Neeson (as a Catholic priest who turns out to be Kitten’s father), Brendan Gleeson (as the performing Womble, Uncle Bulgaria) and Stephen Rea (as a magician who becomes smitten with Kitten) aren’t afforded the screen-time they merit given the episodic nature of proceedings.

Tonally, the film is all over the place as well, offsetting the bloody politics of the time with ill-conceived black humour and thrusting Kitten into several unlikely situations in which he would have little hope of surviving.

The reaction of some IRA gunmen to Kitten’s decision to throw their arms haul away is indicative of the fractured reality that the film unsuccessfully strives to create – as is the inclusion of a pair of CGI robins who book-end the movie as narrators of sorts.

Given it’s subject matter, Breakfast on Pluto was always going to be an acquired taste but when compared to Jordan’s best work even his most ardent fans may find the results far from purr-fect.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 9mins