Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Browsing through movie catalogues these days can be a very challenging and laborious task to perform and striking gold usually is a rare occasion upon itself. I’m not implying any bit of scrutiny towards the industry or its production quality, but that I am incompatible to a large degree with the movies coming out the last three years or so. This makes picking a flick, even from the anticipated ones, a ritual that involves prayers and all available fingers crossed. For every ten disappointments or so I do get rewarded with a film that just clicks with me and delivers the cinema experience, the way the artsy gods intended.
“Breakfast on Pluto” is one of those pleasant accidents, which don’t promise much at first glance. The cast is not represented by largely recognizable names, the poster I saw [not the one exhibited here] did not gauge my interest and this is a 2005 production I hadn’t registered yet; all factors that discouraged me. However the strange, possibly surrealistic title and the plot overview that promised if not a brilliant story than at least an odd rarity of a story nudged me into submission.
Based on the novel with the same title by Irish author Peter McCabe “Breakfast on Pluto” is a broken and repaired carousel circling in a fair’s hall of mirrors. A ride that transported me in a world, veiled in grimness, beauty and humor, where happy endings do occur ever so often. Director Neil Jordan presents the story in short chapters, though they feel like vignettes to me, pieced together in order to relay the extraordinary life of Patrick Braden [Cillian Murphy], a man, who never allowed fear to bind him into expressing his self and personality to the fullest, even if that contradicts society’s rules and traditional gender roles.
Yes, this is a story about a transvestite, but then again this is not a story that focuses on cross dressing. This part of the character is simply the background, the small door that allows the story to escape the mainstream formal façade of life and run free through the dark alleys, where surprises and dangers lurk, entwined and masked into each other. From IRA terrorists to a missing mother, a glittering rock band and a stage magician the viewer is submerged into an almost surrealistic version of the 70s in the UK and Ireland, where all of the improbable is able to happen.
There is a plot line. Patrick tries to find his mother, who left him, when he was a child, but once the movie takes off I got the impression this was a story focused on the journey rather than the destination. This is shown through Patrick’s own transformation from an androgynous youth to a high gloss drag queen. I’d also like to mention that this visual metamorphosis is a tool that parallels Patrick’s inner growth as he discovers what matters in life. Refreshingly sex is never shown. Infatuation, sparks and mischevious humor are present, but there is no vulgarity displayed, which fully cements my view that “Breakfast on Pluto” explores diversity in life styles without condemning.
As a finishing thought I would like to add that the cast did an amazing job at making these characters spring to life. First off, there is Liam Neeson, who is one of my all time favorite actors Ireland could have given birth to and he plays the part of Father Liam with the required serenity, I expect from priests. Then we have Ruth Negga, who is an unknown to me name, but delivers her role with integrity and energy that draw you in. Last, but not least there is Brendan Gleeson, who I have seen in so many Hollywood productions I can expect solid acting.