Directed by Neil Jordan, starring Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea, Brendan Gleeson, Ruth Negga, Gavin Friday, Laurence Kinlan, Eva Birthistle and Bryan Ferry.
Your favourite Irish film is one of those topics that can always provide hours of fun once such conversational hotpoints as property, SSIAs and commute times have been exhausted. Once you've nailed your colours to the mast the inevitable debate, argument or fight ensues about your choice and why it doesn't measure up to someone else's. One film that many have managed to agree on is Neil Jordan's adaptation of Patrick McCabe's book 'The Butcher Boy'. But now the 'Butcher Boy' camp may be about to split in two because for some Jordan's take on McCabe's 'Breakfast on Pluto' will become their new treasure.
Beginning in the 1960s, 'Breakfast on Pluto' brings us into the weird, wonderful and lonely world of Patrick Braden (Murphy). Born in a border town, Patrick is the son of parish priest Father Liam (Neeson) and his beautiful housekeeper Ely (Birthistle). Abandoned on the presbytery steps by a London-bound Ely, and brought up by the local pub landlady/witch, Patrick is aware that he is somehow different from a very early age.
At 10 he's dressing up in women's clothes and by 16 he's convinced the school principal that with his gift for sewing he really should be studying home economics, not mechanical drawing – another step towards achieving his new identity as 'Kitten'. But if Patrick/Kitten is moving ever closer to personal freedom, then the longing to find his mother grows with every day. And so he decides to track her down, an adventure which will find him crossing paths with the IRA, the British police, London lowlifes, Wombles and a love-hungry magician...
While Jordan's films have been events in Ireland for a long time, it's been a few years - 'The Butcher Boy' in 1998 - since one has really fired the imagination and been worthy of that tag. 'Breakfast on Pluto' finds him back in top form, a poignant and funny look at the search for love and acceptance with some fantastic scenes, memorable visuals and a script which rolls many of the themes from his previous works into a single plot. It's a film that feels like a whistlestop tour of Irish issues over a couple of decades, its chapter-like structure ensuring that nothing is dwelt on for too long.
Straining to hit the high notes of Kitten's voice, Murphy gives his biggest and best performance to date as the ingénue who sees the good in everyone and is convinced that the best is always just around the corner - even if he's in a very dark alley at that very moment. The over-acting pitfall at the centre of the role is bigger than Kitten's heart but Murphy never lets the camp dominate the character. And he has a great supporting cast to spark off - Gleeson as the hard-drinking, hard-hitting Irishman who gets Kitten a job where he can dress up; Friday as the showband leader with a triple life; Neeson as the man who finally listens to his heart and Negga as the childhood friend whose own story offers Kitten the family he's always wanted.
There's something for everyone here – and the only pouting will be on the screen.