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'BREAKFAST' ISN'T TERRIBLY NUTRITIOUS.

Byline: Glenn Whipp Film Critic

NEIL JORDAN'S strained bit o' fancy, ``Breakfast on Pluto,'' opens with an extended shot of a couple of digital chirping robins, subtitled no less, who would seem to signal the imminent appearance of Snow White. But if you've seen ``The Crying Game,'' you know that Jordan has a different kind of princess in mind, though that still doesn't quite prepare you for Kitten, Jordan's latest starry-eyed cross-dresser.

The Candide-like Kitten (gamely played by Cillian Murphy) floats through life with but one purpose, to find his mother, a Mitzi Gaynor look-alike who left him on the doorstep of Father Bernard (Liam Neeson) when he was a baby. The film, told in 35 ``chapters,'' follows Kitten from boyhood, where his feminine proclivities developed, to his early-1970s adult years, where our dreamer, now in the throes of glam rock, often intersects with the Troubles, this being Jordan and Ireland and all.

Kitten dismisses politics and the IRA as ``serious, serious, serious.'' Some of the film's high points place Kitten in the midst of some pretty serious stuff, comically juxtaposing the character's innocence and utter lack of awareness against the calculated cruelties of the outside world. Also, along the way, Kitten meets her share of admirers, including, but not limited to, a magician (Stephen Rea), a psychopath (Bryan Ferry) and a swaggering pub singer (Gavin Friday).

The problem is that the coy Kitten never really develops as a character and, as the film unfolds, your interest in him wanes. Add to the fact that Kitten is really the only focus here, and you have a long, 135-minute movie that is dramatically slack and only intermittently interesting. Besides Murphy, only Rea makes much of a mark, and his character is unceremoniously jettisoned when the wind carries Kitten off in another direction.

Jordan clearly means Kitten to be a symbol of irrepressible grace in the face of tragedy. But aside from the occasional soaring moment - and there are several fine chapters among the 35 - Jordan's intended poetry comes off as piffle. The unintended lesson: Mixing camp and earnestness can be as deadly as a night spent drinking stout with the regulars at an Irish pub.

Glenn Whipp, (818) 713-3672

glenn.whipp(at)dailynews.com

BREAKFAST ON PLUTO - Two and one half stars

(R: sexuality, language, some violence, drug use)

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea.

Director: Neil Jordan.

Running time: 2 hr. 15 min.

Playing: Laemmle's Sunset 5 in West Hollywood; Landmark's Westside Pavilion in West Los Angeles; Laemmle's Monica in Santa Monica.

In a nutshell: Neil Jordan gives us another cross-dresser, this time aiming more for whimsy than surprise. The result, however, is more often piffle, not poetry.

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Photo:

Cillian Murphy navigates through Ireland in a womanly yet innocent way in ``Breakfast on Pluto.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 2, 2005
Words:468
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