One of the biggest delights and best surprises of the 2005 awards season was Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto. I caught a screening of it at 9 a.m. and liked it so much that I arranged to see it again as soon as possible. In fact, I liked it enough that it was my pick for best film of that year—and it still is. Before the screening, I’d never heard of the film and I went in knowing absolutely nothing about it. When I saw that it was adapted from a novel by Patrick McCabe—whose book The Butcher Boy Jordan filmed in 1997 (both times with McCabe co-writing the screenplay)—I immediately expected a bitterly funny, but grimly disturbing movie was about to unfold. (I expected this even in spite of the bright pop colors and the Rubette’s “Sugar Baby Love” playing on the opening soundtrack.) And then there was Cillian Murphy as Patrick “Kitten” Braden parading along in full drag while pushing a baby in a pram and offering to take up a lewd workman and his friends on their propositions. When this reaction silences them, Kitten opines, “Not up to it then, you innocent, shovel-wielding, horny-handed sons of the native sod?” Then, leaning in to address his infant charge, he adds “Not many people are, munchkin—not many people can take the tale of Patrick Braden, aka St. Kitten, who strutted the catwalks, face lit by a halo of flashbulbs, as ‘Ooh!’, she shrieked, ‘I told you from my best side, darlings!’” Well, this intro—which indeed starts that very tale—indicated that this could be a different sort of film for Jordan. It is and it isn’t, of course. The stories in the film have much the same concerns as his other work, but the tone is different. Breakfast on Pluto is a film that anyone who’s ever been an outsider can relate to—and if you came to adulthood in the film’s setting of the late 1960s and early 1970s, so much the better.
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