BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (Neil Jordan, 2005)
In BREAKFAST ON PLUTO Patrick Braden (Cillian Murphy), otherwise known as Kitten, goes on a quest to find the mother he has never known. She abandoned baby Patrick on the steps of an Irish priest's home and left for London, or so go the rumors. This mysterious woman is an object of fascination for Patrick, an unusual sort in his own right. Upon reaching young adulthood, the gender bending Patrick leaves Ireland for London in search of her.
Broken into more than thirty chapters, BREAKFAST ON PLUTO’S novelistic feel can seem disjointed, but ultimately the structure frees the film to flit from one interesting encounter to another with a minimum of connecting material. (Imagine OLIVER TWIST meets MIDDLESEX, if Jeffrey Eugenides' hermaphrodite protagnoist was replaced with a transvestite.) Part of the fun of Neil Jordan’s film is seeing Patrick the chameleon adapt according to the characters he meets and odd situations in which he finds himself. Like the androgynous rockers Patrick meets, the era is one in which society's conventions are challenged at every turn.
For as much outlandishness as there is in Jordan's heady film, it boils down to the wounded spirit beneath the surface of the life ecstatic. The director rhymes an early scene in a confessional with a pivotal dialogue between the performer and hidden customer in a peep show booth. In both cases the individuals are physically separated and, in theory, anonymous. The circumstances permit greater disclosure and intimacy for these characters than they have been able to achieve face to face.
Patrick’s maternal search in BREAKFAST ON PLUTO is a comic journey, but slowly it accumulates a great deal of poignancy. Murphy’s performance mixes innocence and wry bemusement to create a strange yet endearing character. Watching this transvestite Candide pour out his soul in the midst of a magician’s hypnotism act is heartbreaking.