Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:28 am 
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Neil Jordan: Breakfast on Pluto (Ireland/UK 2005). 135 minutes. A Sony Pictures Classics release. (US release date: November 18.)

NYFF: October 1 and 2 (2005).


Giddy stuff, but not Jordan's best

Neil Jordan and Patrick McCabe have collaborated in adapting McCabe’s 1992 novel recounting the multi-faceted adventures of a transvestite from a little Irish town near the northern border who grows up in the Sixties and Seventies. This unusual and chronically upbeat person is Patrick/Patricia “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy), who goes to London in his twenties to find his birth mother – “The Phantom Lady,” he calls her – who abandoned him as a baby on the doorsteps of a parish priest (Father Bernard, Liam Neeson). Plato is a whirl of theatrical experiences – including stints as a rocker’s “squaw” and a magician’s assistant, not to mention streetwalking and political violence which Kitten tries – not altogether successfully – to escape to live a fairytale life like the one described in Bobby Goldsboro’s saccharine “Honey” and a lot of other bad pop songs that provide the movie’s soundtrack. The story’s divided into dozens of jaunty little chapters. Kitten/Patricia’s fairy tale is really anything but pretty, but it’s colorful and intentionally amusing and shows both Jordan and the unusual and strangely watchable Murphy working at an extremely manic pitch. This NYFF “centerpiece” has a kind of epic squalor. One must admire the smooth wheels of its giddy storytelling, but the talent of the young man with the pretty face, big cheekbones, and hauntingly big pale blue eyes is somewhat misused. He nails the resilient sweetness of his character a little too early and then tries to hog the screen with a one-note performance for over two hours. Lots of other good actors, including Stephen Rea, Brendan Gleeson, Gavin Friday, Ian Hart and Bryan Perry, keep him from succeeding completely in that aim, but the movie isn't up to Jordan's best work, such as Mona Lisa and The Crying Game. I'd rather watch it than Interview with a Vampire, though, and it's another big notch on Cillian Murphy's ladder to fame.

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