starring Cillian Murphy, Stephen Rea, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson
screenplay by Neil Jordan and Patrick McCabe, based on McCabe's novel
directed by Neil Jordan
by Walter Chaw It would seem impossible that Neil Jordan could maintain the ebullient energy of Breakfast on Pluto, and sure enough, it peters out somewhere in the film's second hour. But for as long as it lasts, the picture stands as Jordan's most cheerful, mining joy from the resilience of an Irish transvestite in London as he squeezes all of the Irish experience through his insouciant prism. It mixes magic realism with a certain fairytale sensibility that has been the hallmark of Jordan's career (his hero even wakes in a castle at one point), used here as something like a Miltonic homily along the lines of "The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven." A film about the influences of religion, fanaticism, politics, friendship, and love on identity, it's also a survey history of the Irish/English conflict from the trippy, mod '60s into the '70s, and, by the end, an actors' workshop on how to build a performance based on quirks into a character based in emotion.