Cheery young transvestite Patrick Kitten Braden (Murphy) leaves home and falls in with a rock singer before leaving Ireland to look for his real mother. A variety of unconventional jobs not to mention trouble awaits him in the politically-charged
Neil Jordan returns his attentions to transvestism some 13 years after The Crying Game, but despite also touching on terrorism, this adaptation of Patrick McCabe’s novel is very different. Predominantly comic, the film’s tone is set by Cillian Murphy’s airy, high-pitched narration as gentle trannie Patrick “Kitten” Braden, who’s happy to let the dramas of life wash over him so long as his stockings don’t get laddered.
Comic sidekicks are in regular supply, from a closet gay terrorist rocker (Gavin Friday), to a mild-mannered travelling magician (Stephen Rea). But there’s a sinister edge to many of the men Patrick meets on his journey: they’re often ready to exploit his small-town naivety and eagerness to please.
Mixing dark humour with camp comedy, this romps through Patrick’s life with enthusiasm and an eye for glamour. Murphy looks startlingly pretty in blonde curls, lip gloss and fur, and affects an innocent, stereotypically feminine manner that draws a good few laughs, especially via his put-downs. His character is so exaggerated, though, he’s hard to engage with as a fully rounded protagonist. Lacking the edge of an Almodóvar lead, for example, his manner is almost too consistent; we’re never quite sure if the “Kitten” act is Patrick’s natural self, or if a more cynical mind lurks underneath. And so the film whimsically flits from drama to drama with a lack of depth, taking about as much interest in terrorism — the source of several subplots — as Kitten does.
Still, there’s plenty to enjoy. In true road movie tradition, this moves on to fresh faces and new places just before the old ones become boring. Brendan Gleeson provides chuckles in a delightful sequence in which Patrick accidentally becomes a Womble, and Ian Hart and Steven Waddington inject black comedy as hardened cops frustrated — and ultimately charmed — by Patrick’s fantastical take on life. There’s a hint of poignancy, too, when the subject of fostered Patrick’s true father is raised.
Breakfast On Pluto may not be very insightful, and at over two hours it rather outstays its welcome. But, like its optimistic hero, its sunny disposition helps you take the rough with the smooth.
A superficial breeze through an entertaining life story, this has charm and glamour but little profundity. Respect to Murphy for cleaning up as one of the prettiest trannies in recent memory, though (sorry, Chiwetel).