Breakfast on Pluto

Opens Fri., Dec. 23, at Varsity.

Cillian Murphy is an eyeful as Patrick "Kitten" Brady, an Irish transvestite who puts the gay back in Gaelic. He's got a jungle of pre-Raphaelite ringlets, baby blues the size of balloons, and overmascara'd lashes batting fast enough to blast you through the wall and leave your silhouette behind. He's cuter than his predecessor, the famous chick-with-a-dick in Neil Jordan's The Crying Game. And as in Game, Jordan plunges the transvestite entrancer into the old maelstrom of the Troubles during the '60s and '70s. After a troubled-with-a-small-t upbringing as the unacknowledged bastard son of the local priest (Liam Neeson), Kitten endures repression by locals and invading British troops, bonds with stoners, and gets picked up by a cheesy touring glitter band's lead singer (Gavin Friday). The good news is, it's true love, and Kitten gets to perform in Pocahontas drag. The bad news is, his boyfriend's an IRA gunrunner. IRA thugs aren't charmed by the flouncingly apolitical Kitten. He flees them for picaresque and desultory adventures in London, some of them fun to watch. He dons a silly costume at a children's theme park, tutored by a comically two-fisted sot (Brendan Gleeson); fends off a killer (Bryan Ferry); joins the act of a hypnotist magician (Stephen Rea); gets blown up in an IRA disco bombing and then blamed for it; and finds happiness performing with the girls in a peep-show booth. At long fucking last, sentimental plot strands concerning his lost biological mom, his dad in denial, and his best buddies from childhood are resolved, sort of, and the incredibly protracted film ambles lazily to an end. At least 45 of Breakfast's 135 minutes are darn good. There are God's plenty of colorful characters you'd like to get to know, scenes intriguingly set, a zillion catchy tunes played and sung and vamped to, from "Honey" to "Doggy in the Window." Murphy's performance is a real achievement that reminds me of Peter Sellers' hero in Being There—a guy impervious to chaos, a swishy sleepwalker through a fairy-tale world stocked with lots of real toads, an impassive man who makes Andy Warhol look like Jon Lovitz's Master Thespian character on Saturday Night Live. But it's mostly ruined by a pointless plot, characters and bits with no connections, logical or emotional, and a lead role that's a black hole of ennui and motiveless benignity. The Crying Game had moral tension and the sense of fate as a hell-bound train on whose cowcatcher the viewer is strapped, wide-eyed, in peril. Witnessing Breakfast on Pluto is like listening to a talented but particularly self-absorbed child actress recite her dreams at length in a singsong falsetto. (R)

 
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