Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley Breakfast on Pluto – 2 Stars (Average) Breakfast on Pluto is a gender preference movie about a boy who really wants to be a girl, and settles for being a transvestite trying to find a place in a world that curses his very existence. Irish actor Cillian Murphy plays Patrick "Kitten" Braden in a controversial film due to the subject matter. It is very difficult to make a great film. It is difficult to make a good film. It is almost impossible to make a good film when the subject matter is not even on the radar screen of the average viewer.
Alternative lifestyle films do not win awards even if the actors involved get an Oscar (as Hilary Swank did in Boys Don't Cry), get nominated for an Oscar (as Felicity Huffman did in Transamerica) or get nominated for a Golden Globe (as Cillian Murphy did in Breakfast on Pluto). The typical moviegoer does not want to talk about alternative lifestyles much less see them. We are uncomfortable with what we do not know or understand, and even if we did, men would have a fondness for the distaff side only if they are genetic girls. There will be no great acceptance for alternative films now or in the distant future. Hollywood is OK with accepting alternative lifestyles, but Hollywood is generally far more liberal, permissive and self-absorbed than mainstream America.
Some of us in mainstream America are interested in relationship films and put no restrictions on the individuals and lifestyles involved. I endured Boys Don't Cry and Transamerica and am pleased to say I did not have to endure Breakfast on Pluto. I think that Neil Jordan is the reason why. Jordan not only directed the film but wrote the script based on Pat McCabe's novel. McCabe plays the role of the schoolmaster. Jordan's script does not follow McCabe's novel, and the film is made better by his decision.
Jordan achieves something that few of his counterparts have been able to do and that is direct and write and produce a good product. I have a laundry list of wannabe writer/directors who have tried to do both and failed miserably. The only other effort that immediately comes to mind besides Neil Jordan is Tim McCanlies' Secondhand Lions. McCanlies is a master storyteller in Secondhand Lions.
Unlike Boys Don't Cry and Transamerica which missed a great opportunity to inform and educate people about alternative lifestyles, Breakfast on Pluto delivers big time. Instead of a tragic ending filled with stereotypes and dialog riddled with hatred and bigotry, Breakfast on Pluto has a happy ending. Cillian Murphy's great performance honors a character who stays true to "her" life, and remains in character to win in the end. While the production in the film suffers from sound problems that border on annoying, Murphy does not miss a beat despite narrowly escaping death on three occasions. The film could not have been comfortable for the Catholic church as the priest Father Liam (Liam Neeson) impregnates his very attractive housekeeper, becoming the father (literally and figuratively) of Patrick Braden. He is raised as a foster child by an alcoholic mother who earns her living as a tavern owner.
Young Patrick gets into his gender role early on and eventually leaves his small Irish town for Piccadilly Circus in London, becoming an entertainer and streetwalker. Jordan as the Director concentrates on the character of "Kitten" and wisely avoids taking the low road by using any tawdry displays for ratings. He makes Kitten into a real person that has a lack of direction and real problems fitting into regular society. Cillian Murphy does an excellent job of keeping his character Kitten on task with the famous line "to thine ownself be true.
" Kitten does not waver or compromise who she is despite danger or lack of acceptance. In the end, Father Liam comes to terms with breaking his vow of celibacy, reconciles with Kitten, and experiences some personal growth in the process. Do not be concerned about too many of these alternative films making it to the screen. Breakfast on Pluto had to be a financial disaster, pulling in only $751,000 at the box office. I think anyone involved in an alternative lifestyle would appreciate Breakfast on Pluto, not because it makes a statement about endorsing an alternative lifestyle, but because it makes a statement about acceptance of oneself without recrimination.
Kitten shows it is not necessary to flaunt who you are to gain acceptance, she eventually finds acceptance by being herself, nothing more and nothing less.
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