Breakfast on Pluto

MIRROR, MIRROR Murphy already knows who's the fairest of them all.
MIRROR, MIRROR Murphy already knows who's the fairest of them all.

Time Out says

His name is Patrick Braden, but as the Candide-like central character of Neil Jordan's latest film likes to say, you can call him "Kitten." Abandoned by his mother and suffering the usual indignities of an Irish working-class childhood, Braden (Murphy) develops his fantastic feline-monikered alter ego—a pouty transvestite with thick skin and a taste for patterned blouses. Our hapless hero ends up adopting a number of additional personas (glam-rock groupie, coquettish rent boy, accomplice-cum-patsy for the IRA) as he navigates through the turbulent 1970s and searches for his MIA ma. But one constant remains: So long as Kitten bats her eyes and looks Marc Bolan fabulous, neither barbs nor bombs can dent Braden's satin-sheathed shell.

Like many of the filmmaker's previous works, Breakfast on Pluto deals with Ireland's violent history by politicizing the personal; no matter where the cross-dressing Braden goes or who he meets, his story never leaves "the Troubles" far behind. Problem is, Jordan has covered a lot of the same ground before—from gender-bending role-play in The Crying Game to the damaged-goods magical realism of The Butcher Boy—and done it far more evenly and eloquently. Not even Murphy's totally transformative performance can keep a nagging lack of purpose from nipping at the narrative's heels. Kitten may eventually discover who (s)he is, but the film's own identity crisis never gets resolved. (Now Playing.)
David Fear



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