Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Breakfast On Pluto


Breakfast On Pluto has been getting so-so reviews. The film, which opens Friday at the Varsity, currently has a 51% rating on the Tomatometer. The common complaint seems to be that it's a superficial, insufficiently political piece of fluff with a shallow, unchanging character at its center. True, and yet these very qualities make it fairly enjoyable. The film is invariably compared to The Crying Game, but has more in common with The Velvet Goldmine. As in Goldmine, Pluto builds its framework from a 70's glam aesthetic, but Jordan does a far better job of investing his fondness for that period in his characters. Patrick 'Kitten' Braden is not a riff on Bowie or Bolan, but on the common sources they shared, namely rock 'n roll and Hollywood glamour and, like both of those wellsprings, the charm of the character resides in the faith that he shall never die. Kitten is indeed an unchanging, un-ageing, indestructible figure who weathers fire, explosions and assaults, both physical and emotional, virtually unscathed. In that regard he shares more in common with Candy than Candide, though foregoing either's satirical purpose. Like Candy, Kitten is a love magnet, winning if not warming the heart of every potential adversary whether they be bikers, rockers, IRA members, cops or clergy. Whereas in real life such a person would come to a dozen ignoble ends, Kitten nimbly traverses through a cat's worth of lives. Although the film skits upon the Troubles of Ireland and has a note to say about intolerance, it is really more a fantasy of survival and acceptance, which is, when you really come down to it, what the romance of the movies is all about. Like James Bond, the allure of Kitten is that he can't be killed or rejected. Breakfast On Pluto, then, is a feel good film, a Disney movie for grownups, complete with talking robins. It's true that Cillian Murphy's unique performance [which, at turns, reminds one of Sissy Spacek and Miranda July] has a frilly, solipsistic quality that would become grating if encountered for more than, say, the 135 minutes of the film, but then, would you really want to date Holly Golightly? Breakfast On Pluto also has the virtue of sporting a fine supporting cast and perhaps the best damned soundtrack of the year, featuring three songs by Harry Nilsson, two by Van Morrison, a brace of tunes by Slade, T-Rex and Dusty Springfield and one by Britain's greatest furry band, The Wombles.


  1. Here, here! I loved this film. Granted, Cillian Murphy gives a bizarre performance--he sounds a lot like Dina Martina--but he eventually won me over. Longtime Neal Jordan fans, such as myself, are likely to see it as a sort of greatest hits: There's the IRA again ("The Crying Game"), Patrick McCabe ("The Butcher Boy"), Liam Neeson ("Michael Collins"), Stephen Rea ("The Crying Game," "The End of the Affair"), etc. It's also a sort of tribute to those Irish individuals who've chosen not to follow "the rules" of Irishness; people as diverse as, well, Michael Collins, Van Morrison (whose "Madame George" was made for the film), Sinead O'Connor (who was featured in "The Butcher Boy"), et al. Music fans may also find the involvement of Gavin Friday (the Virgin Prunes) & Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music) of interest. Both are excellent as men who, respectively, love & abuse Kitten (called "Pussy" in McCabe's book--and kudos to Jordan for changing that!).

  2. Um, I meant to say "Hear, hear!" Old habits really do die hard...