Breakfast on Pluto–After You See It

                                                                                                                                           4:45 p.m.   5/19/06

Ok.  Next up—Breakfast on Pluto.  I had mix feelings about seeing this movie because it got pretty trashed at the time it was released.  I don’t normally pay attention to reviews when I am actually going to see a movie, but I did with this movie for some reason.  Why did I want to see it?  Well, Neil Jordan directs, for one.  I think he’s a great, though erratic director who occasionally indulges himself too much—see End of the Affair as case in point.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to see this because Cillian Murphy reminds me of that guy from Smallville, whom I don’t find attractive at all.  In fact, I was convinced that Tom Welling was the actor playing Scarecrow in Batman Begins.  Even though I realized it wasn’t, I thought he—Murphy—was odd looking in Batman Begins, and this is without the scary Scarecrow transformation.  On the other hand, he is Irish.  ‘Nough said.

So, I put this movie on my queue and kept it sitting on the living room coffee table while I tried to decide if I wanted to see it or not.  Needless to say, I finally did.  I pop it in at the start of an exercise session, and I am underwhelmed.  In the commentary, Neil Jordan says that the whole movie hinges on the character of Patrick ‘Kitty’ Braden (Cillian Murphy), and he’s right.  This is the greatest strength and greatest weakness of the movie, starting with the latter.  The whole movie is structured as a book, really, with Kitty telling her life in chapters.  In fact, the title of each chapter flashes on the screen, which I like.  In the beginning, Patrick’s mother abandons him on the steps of the church and leaves.  Oh, by the way, it pays to watch with the subtitles because this time, I got dialogue between the robins.  It was hilarious!  And it was only in the subtitles. 

Anyway, the priest is Liam Neeson (and yes, it does become a game of ‘oh, look!  It’s so-and-so!), and he takes the baby to the local watering hole and drops him off.  It’s pretty apparent from the beginning that Liam (Father Liam, how funny) is the father of the baby.  Scandalous?  I suppose so.  It’s also clear that Patrick has an interest in women’s clothing from a pretty early age.  His adoptive mother (played by Ruth McCabe) is a harridan who’s appalled that he wants to dress up in girl’s clothing with her daughter (played by Charlene McKenna) right by her indignant side.  These two women are so repugnant, that it’s a relief when I see the backside of them halfway into the movie, expect for their appearance in a funeral scene. 

The first half drags along with Patrick being arch and fey.  I know he’s a young man, but he’s so very, very callow.  I love the luminous Ruth Negga as Charlie, but she’s little more than a strident bitch in the beginning.  In fact, everything seems to be stereotyped.  The bad Patrick acting up in Catholic school, though they seem surprising tolerant of his girly clothing and makeup.  The teacher of Patrick’s English class is played by Pat McCabe, the author of the book on which this movie is based.  That amuses me for some reason.  Anyway, following Patrick throughout Catholic school is a chore.  In fact, I’m wondering if I even want to finish the movie.  The biker is pretentious and pontificates too much, and I’m impatient.  I am metaphorically gritting my teeth which does not bode well for the movie.  I stop after I’m done exercising (about halfway through) to ponder whether I want to finish or not.

After some heavy deliberation, I return.  Why?  I don’t know.  I just have the obscure hope that it’ll get better.  The acting is pretty decent (with the limited scope), the music is cool (from the era, the sixties/seventies Ireland), and, well, it’s Neil Jordan.  Oh, I forgot to say, because Stephen Rea has made his appearance, albeit as a slimy British guy.  Wait, slimy isn’t the right word, and before we get to him, we have to get to a gentleman, who is called in the credits on , ‘Mr. Silky String’.  See, Kitten is in London to find her mother in the city that never sleeps and has swallowed her up.  Yes, this line is repeated several times throughout the movie, another problem.  Anyway, Kitten has an altercation with a hooker and hops into a car of a wealthy gent in order to escape.  Mr. Silky String.  Who, you can see from the word go, is  trouble.

Oh!  Gotta go back!  The whole Billy and the Mohawks thing is hysterical, but that’s when I’m really impatient with Patrick.  He falls in love with the singer of a band, Billy Hatchet (Gavin Friday, a singer in real life, and the best friend of Bono from U2, according to, yes, who is sort of in the closet.  And a Young Republican participator.  One of Patrick’s best friends, Irwin (Laurence Kinlan), is also a supporter.  Patrick wants the whole dream in la-la land, whereas Billy is rooted in the reality that is Irish politics.  I wanted to smack Kitten for being so la-la and for doing an act which irrevocably breaks the relationship apart.  Instead of confronting Billy about it, she goes behind his back and does something that could get him (and her) in some deep shit.  Guess she is a woman, after all.  By the way, Eddie Izzard would say that Kitten does drag and is not a tranny because according to Izzard, trannys like women. 

So, in London, Kitten is nattering about love to Mr. Silky String who is giving me the CREEPS!  Guess who he is?  Bryan Ferry from Roxy Music!  How cool is that?  He’s really fucking good, too.

                                                                                                                                        12:27 a.m.  19/20

I took a break.  Am back.  Anyway, it’s clear from the start that Mr. Silky String is a bad, bad man.  How bad?  He tries to kill Kitty by strangulation with a silky necklace (hence his name), and she only escapes after spraying him with perfume.  Harrowing and funny, I admit, but still obvious. 

Then, sigh, Stephen Rea.  He seems to be a good bloke, and a magician, too, but he’s also interested in exploiting Kitty in a most ugly way.  It’s hard to reconcile his base nature with his more overt goodness, but we’re all a mixture of good and bad, I guess.  It’s especially interesting to see Stephen Rhea in a role where he loves (as much as he can love) a woman who is a man.  I’m glad Jordan made it that way because at this point, there is no mistaking Kitty for a biological woman.  Actually, I don’t ever think there is mistaking Kitty for a biological woman, but I guess I’m just hard to fool in that way.  I like that Charlie comes back into the picture at this point, though Irwin, not so much.

Oh!  Back again!  Brendan Gleeson as a Wombley—sort of hedgehog-like Disney creatures.  Fucking hysterical!  Even not knowing the Wombleys specifically, the funniness comes across.  And the Wombley dance?  Brilliant.  Cillian Murphy says in the commentary that Gleeson made up the dance, which is great.  It’s so strange to see a big, strapping man like Gleeson dressed like a hedgehog.  He’s also one of the nicer blokes in Kitty’s life, though he’s not gay.  He doesn’t seem to guess that Patrick has more than just friendly interest in him—I don’t think that would go over too well with John-Joe who loves him some women.  Patrick, on the other hand, is just looking to be loved.

Ok.  After Charlie marches Kitty out of Bertie’s magic act, things start to take a turn for the darker.  All the zaniness to this point becomes, well, more poignant.  Charlie and Irwin are having troubles, and Charlie is pregnant.  First, she decides to get an abortion, then she decides against it.  Irwin drops off a bomb to some Young Republicans before he and Charlie go back to London, then Kitty is caught in a disco where a bomb explodes.  Though it’s not said, it’s painfully clear that it’s the explosives Irwin smuggled into London.

Then, comes the best cameo of them all.  The part?  PC Wallis.  First seen whomping quite brutally on Kitty because everyone seems to think she’s a cross-dressing terrorist.  The scene in which PC Wallis makes mincemeat of Kitty is quite heartbreaking as Kitty is stripped of her finery, becoming just Patrick.  He is broken, physically and mentally, and he’s agreeing with everything PC Wallis and Inspector Routledge (Steven Waddington) are saying.  He tells them what he thinks they want to hear, which is making them uncomfortable.  The fantasy scene in which Patrick makes his ‘confession’ is pretty fucking hilarious, too.  Oh, the cameo?  Well, at first, I don’t recognize the PC.  I think, ‘He’s just some ratty-face brute beating up on poor Kitty’.  A few minutes into the violence, and I realize that it’s fucking Ian Hart!  How great is that?  Yet again, I don’t recognize him at first because he’s a truly transcendent actor.  He becomes the role so that he is not showing through.  Very hard to do.  I bow down to the greatness that is Ian Hart.  Oh, and Murphy says in the commentary that Hart was very gentle in the scenes and didn’t leave a scratch on him.  Also quite a coup.

Anyway, after several days, PC Wallis and Inspector Routledge have come to pity the poor Patrick.  One day, Inspector scoops Patrick off the table to take him back to his cell.  Patrick asks the inspector if he’d take Patrick to the hospital if he found him lying on the floor.  The inspector says, quite gently, ‘Of course I would.’  Patrick asks if the inspector would carry him like he is now.  Yes.  Then Patrick asks, ‘Would you marry me if I weren’t a cross-dressing terrorist?’  Bollocks, no.  They’re similar to the lines Patrick used to coquettishly ask Harry, but they’re heartbreaking here, as is Patrick’s attempt to run back to his cell after he’s set free.  It’s funny on the one hand, but so sad on the other. 

Patrick is homeless.  He learns that if he turns tricks, he can make a decent living that way.  One of the ‘tricks’ he tries to pick up turns out to be PC Wallis, who is feeling so bad about Patrick.  As he drives Patrick away, he lectures him, saying, ‘This will kill you, son,’ to which Patrick replies very quietly, ‘I know.’  Patrick/Kelly has grown up in the movie, and I quite like his more adult self.  Still innocent and looking for the good, but much more aware of the dark.  This is my favorite scene, segueing into Wallis taking Patrick to a stripper co-op, run by the strippers who inhabit it.  There, Kelly does full drag for the first time, and we see more evolution of him into his full being.

This is where I want to stop talking about the movie because the ending is best watched unsullied.  I started out really not liking this movie and ended up with quite fond feelings.  The maturation of Kitty is the key as is the strong performance by Cillian Murphy.  Put this on your Netflix Queue, but don’t expect too much.  That way, you won’t be disappointed.  Oh, and I’m glad that Neil Jordan is still committed to Irish causes, even if the political doesn’t always take the forefront.  That’s all.

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