Thursday, August 31, 2006

Film Review: Breakfast on Pluto

Breakfast on Pluto is the latest film from Neil Jordan, director of The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire. The film tracks the life of Patrick Braden (Cillian Murphy) who is abandoned as a baby in his small Irish hometown and from a young age decides that he prefers life as a transvestite. The small town becomes too conservative for the grown up Patrick who sets off for London in search of his birth mother. Along his journey, Patrick encounters many colourful characters such as the mysterious Father Bernard (Liam Neeson), a rock singer Billy Rock (Gavin Friday), a cheap suit magician (Stephen Rea) and best friend Charlie (Ruth Negga), who is pregnant to her boyfriend who is involved with the IRA.

Breakfast on Pluto is set in Ireland and the UK during the ‘60s and ‘70s and the intense political climate of that era comes to impact on Patty, culminating in a violent nightclub bombing in London. Despite the harsh world that Patty finds himself in, he never loses his sense of optimism. Director Neil Jordan intended the film to be a lesson in how to survive in a deeply aggressive world. Unfortunately, the film comes off more like a lesson in apathy. Patrick is never really affected by the terrible things surrounding him and as a result he appears as an unreal character with no real emotions. He falls in and out of love with no real joy or sadness and at one point in the movie, surrounded by wounded bomb victims, Patrick’s main concern is the state of his stockings.

Patrick is consistently annoyed by people telling him to take things seriously but I found that instead of siding with the main character I was agreeing with the others. Surely we should be encouraging people to take political issues and current events seriously instead of ignoring that these things exist and becoming distracted by materialism.

Cillian Murphy may look convincing as a transvestite but his one-note performance is consistently irritating though this may have as much to do with the script as with the performance. The vacuousness of the main character makes it hard for the audience to root for him and the whimsical style with which the story is told is strained. Despite strong performances from the supporting actors and a fun soundtrack, Breakfast on Pluto quickly wears out its welcome.

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