Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Breakfast on Pluto

"Well, fuck me pink with a hairy arse!"

A boy is born in conservative 1940s Ireland to a Priest (Liam Neeson) and an unknown woman who flees to London after the birth. Bought up by a strict Catholic foster mother he shows signs of difference at an early age when he is caught in a dress and heels. By the 1970s the teenage Patrick ‘Kitten’ Braden (Cillian Murphy) is a proud and open cross dresser, still living in the small, conservative Irish town. As he gets older he wonders about his mother and discovers that she fled to England. He decides to try to find her and along the way joins a glam rock band, has brushes with the IRA, turns to prostitution and comes close to death on a number of occasions.

The entire film is set against the backdrop of the ‘troubles’ in Ireland during the 1970s. Kitten comes face to face with both sides of the war on a number of occasions and the conflict forms a major stand throughout the story. Another stand is her struggle to fit in with a world that tends to reject her choice of lifestyle and her difficulty with everyone taking life so seriously. The film is cut up into thirty or so chapters. Each is numbered and titled but the plot flows smoothly throughout. This mostly worked well to set up a scene but did become a little tiresome after a while.

The highlight of the film is undoubtedly Cillian Murphy who does a wonderful job playing the cross dressing central character. He has the physical presence to convince and the acting ability to make the role his own. Given some of his recent Hollywood roles you sometimes forget what a versatile actor he is but here his versatility is being shown in a fantastic manner. Murphy inhabits the role perfectly, being feminine enough but also maintaining the man underneath. It’s a truly exceptional performance which gained him a Golden Globe nomination as well as an Irish Film and Television Award for which he beat himself in The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Another highlight is the soundtrack which features pop music from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. There are some great songs from the likes of T-Rex, Van Morrison, Bob Merrill, Sammy Fain, Don Partridge, Dusty Springfield, Cole Porter, Slade and even The Wombles. The music fits seamlessly with the plot and along with the tremendous costume design gives a real sense of the period in question. Kitten’s costumes in particular were excellent.

My main problem with the movie is that it never really interested me. The IRA stuff was always in the background but never fully explored. It came in and out of the story at various times and often had a huge impact on characters or situations but not on the film as a whole. Kitten’s ostracisation from her town was another aspect which wasn’t really fully explored and neither was her life in London. I felt that there was far too much to cram into the film and as a result the story suffered. Far too much was glossed over and really the plot didn’t go anywhere.

There are some good performances by the likes of Liam Neeson, Ruth McCabe, Stephen Rea, Gavin Friday, Ruth Negga and Laurence Kinlan but their performances are outshined by Cillian Murphy. Only Brendan Gleeson is able to keep up with Murphy but features sparingly.

Breakfast on Pluto is often funny and occasionally surreal but I found myself bored a lot of the time. There are some very interesting stories in there but too many of them and I didn’t really feel like the ending tied everything up. The film is worth watching for Cillian Murphy’s performance alone though.       



  1. Not enough people have watched this film! But I agree with a lot you have said, it's overly long and not particularly interesting! I wanted to like it because I love Cillian Murphy though!

    So glad I have found and followed your blog! Would love it if you checked out my blog and perhaps followed back? :)


  2. It's a good movie, for sure. But it still isn't terribly amazing. It's creepy (yet impressive all the same) as to how convincing Murphy looks as a woman.

    1. It is weird. I think it's his build and bone structure. The day before I watched a Charlie Chaplin film in which he cross dressed and he looked really feminine too!