Breakfast on Pluto

Adapting Patrick McCabe’s novel with the author’s help, director Neil Jordan revisits the strangely fertile combination of gender bending and Irish politics from which he drew The Crying Game. Here the result is swift, impish and picaresque, but it hangs limply. Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy), abandoned in infancy on a parish rectory doorstep (the priest, played by Liam Neeson, is his father) and discovered in boyhood to enjoy women’s clothes, wants to believe that rose-colored lenses and lipstick will be enough to get him by. Ever hopeful for a reunion with his mother, Kitten endures the rough, repressive ’60s and ’70s—from the intolerance of his Catholic schooling in Ireland to a London nightclub bombing for which he’s wrongly blamed—with delicately glib resilience. The movie appreciates his mild dismissals of all things “serious” but therefore seems tonally untrustworthy. Plus, Jordan wants a batch of pop songs to do most of the story work. At least Murphy—his big blue eyes brought out with mascara, his beanpole frame draped in drag glamour—imbues his part with a warm, winning frivolity.