Breakfast on Pluto (Sony Pictures)
In Neil Jordan's new film Breakfast on Pluto, main character Patrick Braden (Cillian Murphy) is abandoned on a priest's doorstep as a baby. From a young age, he insists on living as a female named Kitten. The complexities of this are never explored, but are instead accepted as normal and set aside from all conflict. In spite of the film's lack of any obvious character exploration, the character embarks on a couple dozen adventures in rapid sequence.
Recalling Neil Jordan's earlier transvestite films, the most compelling sequences in Breakfast on Pluto are when 1970s Irish politics are addressed in the most tactile way. Seeing such an honest portrait of terrorism in an English-speaking country brings to mind the real horror of September 11th and provides the film's real shining moments. But the movie's really about a willy-nilly young tranny looking for an untraditional family life.
I've never been in Ireland or London, but I have been to the 1970s, and Jordan really brought that era to life. There are alot of outdoor scenes on bustling city sidewalks that would have looked staged in most Hollywood films. I never caught them trying to limit the scale or limit the cityscape in any way. It isn't just bell bottoms and facial hair, either -- time is spent in subways, markets, long walks are taken, and the film is visually quite rich. Bryan Ferry plays one of "Kitten"'s many exploits, and if that scene were five minutes longer, I'd recomend it on his account.
It's often said that this film is paced well for a movie in 36 chapters. That's because the title cards really break your concentration (but I didn't even like the title cards in Pulp Fiction, so...). The film doesn't have a narrator per se, but it does have two sparrows that fly throughout the narrative and land at odd times to have a moment's discussion with each other about the previous scene. It's a little like Mystery Science Theater, except that these are literally small birds speaking bird language (with subtitles, at least in the American prints. Because Americans don't speak bird language...) and they're facing the camera.
With only the briefest exceptions in the last third of the movie, I was not at all able to find sympathy for the protagonist. He/she had no goals and no sense of self-worth. Ostensibly, the formulae insists that he/she was all the while intending to discover her birth mother and inevitably his/her priest father, and in this film all puns are intended. But all the mishaps a la Forrest Gump lead nowhere and waste our time. Gump learned lessons and was led towards great things. Pluto's hero/heroine only wastes and then becomes the best form of his/her worst at the end.