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Neil Jordan takes us on a spacy odyssey

Patience is integral to one's enjoyment of Breakfast On Pluto, Neil Jordan's adaptation of the novel by Patrick McCabe. Fifteen minutes into the film, as subtitles helpfully translated the chirping of robins and lead Cillian Murphy laid on the diva act with a trowel, I was ready to call it quits.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the end credits. As the movie progressed, Jordan's eccentric choices and the life journey of his never-say-die protagonist both began to work on me. In a startling turnaround that trumps even the Chicago Bears' recent worst-to-first seasonal ascent, the movie springs from hard-to-watch to difficult-to-resist. By the end, it's hard to let it go.

Working from McCabe's source material, Jordan follows the misadventures of transvestite Patrick "Kitten" Braden (Murphy) as the lad navigates his way through the often dangerous terrain of Ireland and England in the 60s and 70s. Taking a whimsical approach to the episodic structure, Jordan's movie feels like a melding of Forrest Gump, Candide and the strain of "magical realism" that was so fashionable in the foreign cinema of the 1990s.

Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea and Brendan Gleeson appear in support, but this is clearly a tour-de-force for Murphy. Best known for Batman Begins and Red Eye, Murphy initially appears to be coasting on Kitten's flamboyant traits. Yet as our understanding of the character deepens, Murphy's bravura turn grows in stature. He nails his swish shot -- in more ways than one.

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